Monday, May 2, 2011

ADV - World's Natural Treasure, the Mother Nature of Jeju Island ‘Oreum’

Jeju Island is gifted with natural sceneries and more than 1,700 species of plants. It is a marvelous place where you can experience unique geographical features nowhere else can offer. In the center of the island, there is a mountain called Halla Mountain that proudly stands out along with the neighboring oreums – low mountains around Jeju. They reveal the beauty of the natural geography of a volcanic island.

Oreum is a Jeju dialect for a low mountain. There are a number of oreums as there is a saying that people of Jeju are born from oreum and returns to there after death. Nearly 380 oreums are distributed in the island, which far exceeds 250 i.e. the number of those in Mt Etna of Italy.

Oreum consists of grassland, natural and artificial forest, and a wetland are distributed intensively at the bottom area of Mt Halla, the hilly and mountainous areas. As the altitude of the areas differs, the ecological variety is well preserved with high potential value.

To be recognized as oreum, the mountain should be qualified to have all the required components i.e. a crater, shape, and contents; a crater formed by volcanic eruption; shapes of volcanic ashes and scoriae, and sedimentary layer; and pyroclastic materials. Also it is called as ‘ak’ or ‘bong’; Seongsan Ilchulbong, Dusanbong, Songaksan are some examples.

Oreums with different shapes and heights are placed along the ridges of Mt Halla and the coastline of the island invites you to the breathtaking beauty of the Mother Nature.

The ace view, Nokkome oreum

Nokkomeoreum, where 112 families and 469 species of plants reside (Image from the Official Blog of Jeju, New 7 Wonders)

Nokkomeoreum 833.8m above the sea level, covering an area of 923,692㎡ with the height of 234m, girth of 4,390m, and a smaller Nokkomeoreum is also known as ‘Brother Oreum’ as a pair sitting next by each other. The two mountains stand in "high spirits" and its cratered area is enough to thrill your eyes. Some people are surprised as they think ‘Nokkome’ is in Japanese but in fact it derives from a Korean expression ‘Nopgome’ meaning ‘it is high.’

In the Nokkomeoreum area there are animal species that are protected species (class 2) by the Ministry of Environment including roe, weasel of Jeju, badger and so on. Endangered animals including birds such as goshawk, brown-eared bulbul, kestrel, bush warbler and Red-tongue pit-viper, takydromus wolteri and others are residing there as well. Also there are 112 families and 469 species of plants e.g. nutmeg tree, hornbeam, and Galeola septentrionalis Reichb. For sure Nokkomeoreum area is a repository of various species of rare animals and plants.

If you follow the ridges along the hills, a scenic panorama with different faces of Mt Halla and oreums can be revealed. At the northern mountain top the view of Jeju city and the sea can be seen at a look. An average of 4~500 people on weekdays and 2~3,000 people on weekends visit the area to see this extraordinary scene. Why not check out Nokkomeoreum yourself and experience the grandeur gift of the nature?

The Queen of Oreum, Darangswioreum

Darangswi oreum where ‘Wollangbong Sunrise Festival’ will be held next year. (Image by Kyunghyang Shinmun)

Darangswi oreum representing Gujwa town is 382.4m above the sea level, covering an area of over 800,463㎡ with the height of 227m, and girth of 3,391m. It was named as so because of the crater of the mountain looks round like a moon (Darang sounds similar to ‘dal’ that is moon in Korean). Darangswi oreum is the pride of the villagers as it represents a unique and beautiful scene for viewing the moon when the full moon rises behind the round crater of the oreum.

While most oreums have asymmetric slops, Darangswi oreum is a vertically balanced oval shape; this outstanding beauty of proportion surely gives a good reason for its title i.e. the ‘Queen of oreum.’

On top of the mountain, there is a funnel shape of huge circular crater. The circumference of the outside of crater is reaching 1,500m and its depth is 115m just as deep as baekrokdam of Mt. Halla. The area is dense with weeds and cedars on its foot. The area is a huge grassland and if the weather is good, you can see the Seongsan Sunrise Hill, Udo and a wind power plant complex.

There is a saying that you didn’t see the real Jeju until climbing up Oreum, after the wood stairs to Darangswi oreum were built in 2005, the number of visitors had increased. Why don’t you experience the ‘real’ Jeju at Darangswi oreum which is also famous for paragliding and the annual Wallang hill Sunrise festivals?

Geomun Oreum listed on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage

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