Trekking through time at Songaksan

dsc00086With extra water and a bottle of sunscreen, we set out to walk the very picturesque setting of Songaksan Mountain’s Dullegil Trail on a pleasant autumn morning. It’s a 3-kilometer hike that circles the round volcanic structure.

First and foremost, this is a very easy walk that takes just 90 minutes or so (taking into account plenty of time to stop and enjoy the view and photograph it.) It’s definitely suitable for all ages.

The scenery just speaks for itself. There are views all along the south coast.

On a clear day, you can see Jeju World Cup Stadium way off to the east. Still looking in that direction is the imposing and majestic Sanbangsan Mountain, Hyeongjae seom Islands, and part of the Yongmeori Coast.

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dsc00121Further along the trail, which is on Olle Walking Course No. 10 by the way, views to the south reveal Gapado Island and Marado Island, the southernmost point of South Korea.

dsc00125 dsc00124But along the way, there are the telltale signs of Jeju’s volcanic past. Scientifically important geological formations are exposed along the coastline. They are worth a second look, though beware of the cliff’s edge. The sturdy fences are there for a reason — please don’t cross over them for a better photo.

dsc00136Once you reach the northern side of Songaksan, the mountain’s geology gradually becomes covered in lush vegetation. You’ll find the odd Jeju pony or two grazing happily on the thick grass amid pine and other tree species which make up the forest there.

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By the last leg of the route, though, the journey you’ve taken through geological time transforms into sobering recent history — namely military occupation and conflict.

Currently there is an active ROK military outpost on Songaksan. Some 70 years ago, while Japan occupied Korea, the Japanese built military facilities here in the last years of World War 2 which were meant to repel the oncoming Allied Forces.

dsc00163 dsc00171The remnants of cave trenches, underground bunkers and anti-aircraft gun emplacements are still faintly visible, though time and the elements are gradually taking back the otherwise beautiful surroundings.

dsc00105With this contrast of the poignant past and beauty of the entire region, Songaksan is a unique experience and fantastic outing.

How to get there:

From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal take bus 755 to Moseul and then local bus 950 or 951 to Sanisu-dong, or from Moseul catch a taxi (about 10 minutes) to Songaksan.

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