Jeju Named One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature (Almost)

The New 7 Wonders of Nature

This past weekend, Jeju Island celebrated their win in being chosen as one of the provisional new 7 Wonders of Nature. The winners were announced on the New7Wonders Web site by Bernard Weber, founder and president of New7Wonders Foundation, from its headquarters in Zurich at 4:07 a.m. Korean time [source].

It is possible that there will be changes between the above provisional winners and the finally confirmed winners. The provisional winners were selected  based on the first count of votes (a 2 year vote), and were chosen from 28 locations spanning the globe. Voting ended Friday (11/11/11) at 11:11 a.m GMT. The winners will be officially announced in 2012 [source].

When asked about the idea behind the New 7 Wonders, Bernard Weber said, “There are some places in the world where people can’t vote. We like to think that we can make a contribution by getting people to participate in democracy,” Fitzgerald said. Projects like the New 7 Wonders of Nature, he said, do that, and “help raise digital literacy.” [source]

The provisional winners are:

  • the Amazon in South America
  • Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
  • Jeju
  • Komodo National Park, Indonesia
  • Puerto Princesa Underground River
  • the Philippines
  • Table Mountain, South Africa

Jeju Island

The Jeju Development Institute projects that there will be an increase of 73.6 percent in foreign tourists and 8.5 percent in Korean tourists. They predicts that the increase in tourism will boost the local economy by as $1.1 billion. Last year, 770,000 foreign tourists visited Jeju Island, just 8.8 percent of the number of foreign tourists who visited mainland Korea. [source]
What I loved abut visiting Jeju Island with the girls this past May, was seeing the Seongsan Ilchulbong peak. Jeju is beautiful. If you ever have a chance, go see it!
This is Seongsan Ilchulbong ( 성산일출봉 ), known in English as Sunrise Peak. It is over 100,000 years old, created by a volcanic eruption at the time. 
The crater is about 1,969 feet in diameter and 295 feet high.
My friend Mihwa and I at the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong. The sunset was amazing!

Jeju Pt 1: Land of Oranges, Pigs and Lovers

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MAY: Jeju Island, the perfect getaway to spend time with the girls. Though, technically, it’s a “Honeymooner’s Paradise”. The three chicas and I thought, “hey, what the heck? May as well enjoy its beauty”. We all had a must-see added to the list of things to do, but what made it easier and complete was renting a car. Can’t have a girl’s weekend without making it a road trip right?

Jeju Island is the only autonomous province in Korea. It lies south of the mainland, and is a short 2 hour flight from Daegu. Jeju is a bit different than the mainland. According to most, mainland Koreans sometimes have a hard time understanding them because of the dialect. A volcanic island, Jeju is famous for its unique flora and lifestyle. It’s like traveling back in time to an isolated island. To learn more here are some useful sites: here and here. Jeju can be summed up in 3 words: oranges, pigs and lovers. This is an over simplified version of what Jeju is, but for the four of us, this was our vacation summed up to it’s core. 

Source: Visit Korea

About those pigs…. Samgyeopsal (삼겹살). Pork belly, as it is called in English, is what Jodi and I usually eat at the traditional BBQ place. But here in Jeju, it’s different. Why? Their pigs are black. I wouldn’t think that made a difference but suddenly it does and it is a must have from what I have been told. 

What can I say? I was a bit traumatized, and for various reasons. First, we noticed that our pork belly still had hair engrained in it’s layer of fat. Seriously, I can see hair follicles. Now, I know I am “Chica Vs. Food”, but I think it is a fundamental feeling everyone has that they just don’t appreciate hair in their food. Secondly, the price. Regular pork belly is so cheap you could have it for a week without making a dent in your wallet. Here, we paid around $80 for it. What?! That is unheard of here in Korea. On top of that, I personally am not a fan of pork and for me this Jeju pork must have been overfed because its layers of fat were a lot thicker that the inland pigs of Korea. I left feeling queasy for various reasons. 

Source: Wiki

Now to further make this article complete, I did some research. Probably should have done that BEFORE I went. Needless to say,  I found out that this samgyeopsal we ate, is actually called Ddong Daeji (똥돼지). Literal translation? Poop pigs. 

No joke, further research led me to the traditional Jeju ways of raising their black pigs. They literally ate whatever came out of the home or communities’ outhouses … and you know exactly what that means. “The population began to diminish when farmers were not eager to breed them and the Saemaeul Movement replaced traditional toilets with modern ones. The Jeju Husbandry Promotion Center is breeding some 200 indigenous poop pigs to preserve their pure blood. So the Jeju black pork you currently get is actually from a mixed breed” (Joogangdaily). 

Don’t judge, it’s not like you’re eating actual poop. And anyways, nowadays that isn’t how they are raised. A little historical tidbit my Korean friends failed to tell me. No worries, I judged it after I ate it. Though apparently most people love it, so maybe I ate at the wrong place. Read this guy’s perspective. Ha maybe this should have been a “Chica vs. Food” episode. Lesson learned…research next time and THEN eat it.