Personal projects: Jeju Olle
Walking along the trails of Jeju Olle, you would encounter people with variety. Tourists taking every effort to take pictures of what Jeju can manifest itself with friends and families. Serious trekkers- the “Jeju Olle Maniac”-who truly enjoy and appreciate every step they are taking and every Olle trail they are finishing. A father and son from a busy city who enjoy their rare moment together building pebble- towers along the beach. Indigenous Jeju natives-Haenyeo(female divers who manually collecting marine products such as sea cucumbers, sea urchins,etc. from under the sea), fishermen, and farmers-who have been living along the Jeju Olle for many years.
Launched in 2007 by the Jeju Olle Foundation, the Jeju Olle Trail now stretches over 376 km (234miles) of beautifully maintained hiking nature trails all around the Jeju Island located off the southern tip of South Korea. The founder, Seo Myung Sook, was inspired by her spiritual journey along the El Camino de Santiago Trail in Spain, was determined to bring back to Korea the ancient rejuvenation tradition of taking a long journey to calm one’s soul and find inner peace and grouped several trail enthusiasts who were willing to devote their times and, sometimes, give up their livelihood to establish the Jeju Olle where people can escape from the mundane fast-paced life full of stress and competitiveness and find true peace and thoughtfulness the nature can offer. The mantra of the Jeju Olle Trail is to walk slowly, enjoying the nature and relaxing when needed in order to help find the inner tranquility and happiness and calm your spirit.
Jeju Island, recently designated as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is the very place that can accommodate the mantra of Jeju Olle. Trails surrounded by the volcanic lava rock walls along the coastline. Many Oreums(Slopes with various inclinations) that bring you totally unexpected and distinguished view and the famous Jeju wind once you reach the top. Unmanned cafe overlooking the scenic view that you can stop by to rest and treat yourself with tea or coffee. Farmer’s fields and occasional cow or sheep or horse pastures. Fishing docks where local fishermen are hauling the fishing net. Jeju people from street stalls selling kiwis, tangerines, or light snack. The smiles of Jeju people. These are the gifts among others that come with walking and enjoying Jeju Olle.
In fall, 2012 for a month, I took unforgettable peaceful journey documenting Jeju Olle and its people with a commission by Jeju Olle foundatoin. Through these pictures, I would like to share the gifts Jeju Olle offered me, and, hopefully, one day, you can find the inner peace hiking the Jeju Olle.