If you ask around or check travel books for the best island destinations in Asia, chances are you’ll get Jeju Island in your list. Jeju Island (or Jeju-do) in South Korea is considered by many travelers and travel books as one of the Top 10 tourist destinations in the world. The island has a lot to offer and to keep vacationers engaged and excited. To those who come and wish to truly understand what the island and its people are all about, the best attraction to visit is the Jeju Folk Village Museum.
This authentic Folk Village features the 19th-century lifestyle and cultural traditions of the native Jeju people. Everything you see within the village museum is how they were centuries ago. Within this 4,500-hectare wide museum are authentic replicas of a traditional mountain village, fishing village, marketplace, botanical garden, old government buildings and a holy place where actual shamanistic rites are performed. Located in Pyoseon-ri, the village was constructed after some years of research on how Korea and Jeju Island looked like in the 1890s, how the people lived and how their homes were constructed until the end of the Joseon Dynasty and just before the Japanese came. Although this is a constructed village for the sake of tourism, it comes impressively close to the real thing.
Jeju-do is many things to many people. It is teeming with all sorts natural treasures such as mountains, extinct volcanoes, craters, forests, waterfalls, greeneries, beaches and caves. Clearly, Jeju Folk Village Museum is among the island’s most frequently visited man-made attractions.
In addition to the faithful reconstruction of the village, there are more than 8,000 pieces of folk articles on display, which include farming instruments, house items, fishing tools, pieces of furniture, and earthen wares. While there, you should also take a peek inside the Folk Performance Hall to see traditional cultural performances, singing of folk songs, authentic Haenyeo dances, and mask dances, which are held two times a day. Skilled craftsmen also put up a show to demonstrate time-honored crafting techniques that they have learned from their fathers and their fathers’ fathers. Sold at the local market are a variety of traditional foods, mostly seafood dishes. Modern technology joins in the act by presenting audio-video materials that feature the island’s cultural assets, legends, provincial dialects and folk songs. An audio-guide is sold at 2,000 won. Admission is 6,000 won; a tour around the village could take up to four hours.
To the delight and satisfaction of visitors, Jeju Folk Village Museum offers 117 houses and facilities, 1,627 wooden crafts, 1,046 bamboo ware, 1,699 earthenware, 1,544 porcelain pieces, 765 wax candles, 921 ironware and 579 other equally important items. It could take you an hour to reach the place but the time, effort and money you spend are all worth it. From the Jeju Bus Terminal, take a 50-minute bus trip through the East Industrial Road; if coming from Seogwip, the bus ride is only 40 minutes via the East Round Road. The village museum is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (October-March, September), 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (April-July), 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (July-August)