Today we’re going to share a secret place on Jeju Island that most Jeju residents do not know about. This is Yeonhwaji Pond located in Aewol-eup, Haga-ri. It is a very beautiful place where lotus flowers bloom and water lilies grow.
If you visit out of season don’t worry. There is a still a picturesque view to be had. A long time ago this pond was used as a watering hole for farm animals. Some people even did their laundry here too. However, times have changed, so let’s delve into the history a bit more courtesy of the official explanation board full of information.
Origin of Yeonwhaji Pond
It is believed that Yeonwhaju Pond (meaning ‘Lotus Flower Pond’) was the site of a den used by bandits during the reign of King Chungnyeol (1275-1309), who was the 25th Monarch of the Goryeo Dynasty. They lived in a colossal tile-roofed house built in the middle of the pond and small thatched huts set up near one of the small ponds called Saenmultong, which is adjacent to Yeonwhaji. They often robbed passerby of their wealth. One day the bandits obtained news that the newly appointed judge would be passing the pond during his first round of inspections, so they hatched a plot to attack the judge’s party. However, a grandmother called Ttukhalmang living in the village got wind of the bandits’ wicked plan and informed the district office. The royal forces were dispatched to sweep out the bandits and during the operation Ttukhalmang was stabbed to death. The district office gave her a government post to honor her loyalty and deified her in the Jeju Confucian Academy.
Since then, the indented site where the bandits built their house has been used as a pond for cattle or horses. An embankment was built across Yeonwhaji during the extensive repairs that were carried out in the mid-17th century. After the construction, the pond’s south-western section, where the edible lotus flowers are currently planted, served as a source of drinking water, and the larger pond area was used for cattle and horses as well as a place for washing clothes, while the smaller pond served as an area for washing vegetables.
Specific records indicating when the lotus flowers were planted have not been found, however, it is believed that Governer Hang Eung-ho of Jejumok (one of the counties of Jeju during the Joseon Dynasty) in the mid-19th century asked his foster mother to cultivate lotus flowers when he dropped by here during his round of inspection and drank with a lotus leaf and recited a poem. Accordingly, it is assumed the lotus flowers were planted during that time.
In 1976 when an intense cold spell swept over the region, the lotus flowers froze to death, however, two years later germinated lotus seeds propagated and still continue forming lotus flowers in the pond. Rumor has it that, during the two-year period when lotus flowers disappeared, they in truth got married because lotus flowers are believed to get married once every hundred years. There are water lilies growing in Yeonwhaji as well as lotus flowers. There used to be several types of water lilies, such as red-water lilies, white-water lilies, and yellow-water lilies, the classification depending on the color of their flowers. Currently there are only red-water lilies in Yeonwhaji. Lotus plants and seeds are known to regenerate and germinate for more than 100 years.
There is a hexagonal pavilion situated in the middle of Yeonwhaji. During the construction of the pavilion’s groundwork, artifacts supporting the history of Yeonwhaji such as wood and roof tiles datable to the Goryeo Dynasty were discovered. The view of the pavilion with the background of forest wooded with old trees on Jangjadongsan Hill offers some of the best scenery in Haga-ri Village.
Now lotus flowers float here along with many other plants and amphibians.
There is a pleasant walking course around the edge with exercise equipment. Many villagers come here and you kind of feel like you want to live here as well.
In the middle there is a pagoda perfect for resting and whiling away the day. One of the best ways to discover Jeju is to walk into the middle of nature like this. See the stone walls too. Taking a stroll leads to happier feelings at Yeonwhaji especially with family and kids in tow.
Yeonwhaji Pond is one of Jeju’s 31 hidden attractions and is worthy for an inclusion on a trip to Jeju Island.