Image of the Week: Jeju Island Rocks! (Jeju Part 2/3)

Jeju Island looks like a perfect ellipse with a mountain at its center, and this is no accident. The island formed from a volcano, and this background has created a home for some of the most beautiful geological phenomena I have ever witnessed.

(This post is part of a continuing series. For the last article, click here).

One of the first sights for many visitors to Jeju is the unique statuary that was created by the indigenous civilization on the island. While Jeju is and has been part of Korea, the distance of the island from the mainland Korean peninsula allowed the local culture to develop relatively independently, and thus the local dialect and food is quite distinct from other regions of Korea. These statues are made from the local volcanic rock available on the island. The actual character depicted is typical for this type of statuary, and has symbolic meaning.

An example of the unique statues that cover the entire island.

One of the unique natural rock formations visible on the island are the hexagonal columns of volcanic rock that form during the cooling process. The design's geometric pattern is simply breathtaking, and seems almost alien in the natural ecosystem. These particular photos were taken on the south side of the island, in one of the more well-known spots.

A birds-eye view of the hexagonal lava columns
A level-view of the hexagonal lava columns, emphasizing the columns

Other areas of Jeju also demonstrate natural erosion forces from the sea. This next picture is also located on the south-side of the island. If you look closely, you can see a mobile harbor for ocean vessels that was (I was told) developed by researchers at KAIST in the bottom-right corner.

Natural erosion forces have weathered this rock into a subtle pattern

As my photo from last week showed, it was quite snowy during my trip to Jeju. While the island is generally regarded more tropical than arctic, the somewhat rare falling of snow did provide several excellent photo opportunities. Here, snow covers a series of ash rock formations.

Not snow-capped mountains, but impressive next to the sea

Finally, there are several unique rocks that have been provided names. One of the most famous is a rock that looks like a Black Dragon on the north side of Jeju, but the snow and wind were too strong for me to take a photo. That site is particularly popular this year due to 2012 being the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese Zodiac calendar. However, another rock is well-known of a lady on the the mountain.

The "lady" looks up the mountain, ahem, face