– Our Korean diarist has been visiting attractions around the island and sent in this post –
For this post I’m off to examine one of the many exile trails on the island. This is the Myeonam Exile Trail that runs from Yeonmi Village through to the large boulder valley of Bangseonmun.
It was made to create remembrance, appreciation, and interest in people from Jeju’s history. The Jeju Tourism Department and Jeju National University’s Storytelling and Research Department worked together on the project.
One of the focuses for this trail is Choi Ik-hyeon who was exiled to Jeju late in the Joseon Dynasty. He came to this area along with a group of anti-Japanese supporters and climbed Halla Mountain too.
There is an explanation board in Korean along the trail with more details about what the group, Joseoldae, actually did.
For us today this is a beautiful walk in a Jeju countryside setting. However, life must have been tougher and very different for those that were stuck in exile.
Some 300 to 400 years ago the Bangseonmun Valley was also famous as an old tourist attraction.
In the past people believed the rocks symbolized the gateway to the mythical toaist hermit that lived on Halla Mountain. Thus Bangseonmun means Gateway to the Gods and is one of ten protected cultural assets by the government.
Unfortunately the way to visit is blocked right now. The cliffs have some cracks, which make it dangerous for people to view up close.
Looking at the information boards you can find out about the rocks which have messages carved into them from the past.
The high class Joseon Dynasty scholars, old island governors, and of course, the exiled people left their mark here.
You can see similar markings at the summit of Halla Mountain.
Many left their names and why they climbed.
As the trees were changing colors during my visit the atmosphere was very calm. I thought a lot about what the exiled people would be thinking. But again, was it so beautiful for these exiles? Many were sent to Jeju after being falsely accused of crimes.
The Myeonam Exile trail gives everyone a chance to learn more about Jeju while walking in the countryside.