Before we Go: Returning to Udo

This spring we had the chance to return to what may possibly be one of our favorite places in Korea. Udo, a small island off the northeast coast of Jeju, was one of our first adventures when we arrived two years ago. In the early fall, it’s quite striking in its beauty. We had the same experience during our last visit in the springtime.

This time, we found a better route now that we know the island better, so we were at Seongsan port in about an hour, as opposed to the almost two last time took. Long story short: take the highway to Seogwipo and bypass the city proper. Follow signs to the Seongsan port. Don’t go to Udo on holidays, it’s impossibly busy.

We also had a friend with us! Our friend and colleague Nicole, who also teaches at a school in Jeju, joined us for the day trip (and drove us in her car, since we had sold ours by then).

You can only get to Udo by ferry. It’s maybe a 10-minute ride on the ferry. You can still take your car on the ferry and drive yourself around, but the provincial government wants to decrease the number of internal combustion vehicles on the island – the public buses are electric, most of the scooter rental options are electric, and truly, the island is not that big. Cars just create traffic that doesn’t help anyone.

It was a beautiful Saturday with sunny, breezy weather. Our day consisted primarily of driving around the island in our scooters and stopping for pictures in the most scenic places.

The highlight of our visit was definitely seeing the Haenyeo (women divers) in action. In a nutshell, these are women (some of which are quite old!) who dive without oxygen to harvest shellfish and seaweed. They are a revered part of Jeju’s cultural heritage, and even have statues erected in their honor all over the island. Seeing them carry their loads from the ocean was deeply humbling. You can see more about these incredible women here: Jeju Lady Divers

Udo is a place of striking nature. It’s a bit sad to see so many buildings taking over the farmland. It’s understandable, as it’s a very popular tourist destination, but we do hope its natural beauty is somewhat preserved.


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