Sunrise on Seongsan Ilchul-bong, East Jeju

East Jeju: The Tale of A Dramatic Coast

Tiếng Việt

Evidence of a turbulent creation, East Jeju is characterised by black cliffs, hundreds of extinct volcanoes and craters. It was a desolate land, filled with rocks and lava stones. But Mother Nature has revitalised this part of the island, transforming it into a picturesque landscape with impressive rock formations, lush green meadows and silver grass fields.


Similar to its distinctive culture, Jeju-do’s geological features are different from those of mainland Korea. As a result of a series of volcanic activities, the entire island is covered in volcanic rock and volcanic soil produced by the enormous Hallasan, the God Mountain. This frenzied creation also formed an extensive system of lava tubes, as well as more than 360 satellite volcanoes and craters, including the prominent Seongsan Ilchul-bong and Sagumburi in East Jeju.

A typical lava tube in East Jeju

Seongsan Ilchul-bong

Rising from the seabed like a majestic castle, Seongsan Ilchul-bong is definitely one of Jeju-do’s most remarkable sights. This extinct tuff cone was formed approximately 5000 years ago as a result of a volcanic eruption underneath the sea. Over the course of time, its bowl-shaped crater has been forested. And Seongsan Ilchul-bong has gradually become home to more than 200 species, including some rare plants. At the base, lush green meadows roll-on sloppy hills, creating a contrast to the dramatic rocky outcrop.

Seongsan Ilchul-bong
Dramatic rocky outcrop in East Jeju

Due to its location on Jeju-do’s eastern tip, Seongsan Ilchul-bong is said to offer the best sunrise view on the island. That’s why a lot of visitors came here every day to glimpse the sun coming over the horizon. The Koreans believed that catching the sunrise at Seongsang Ilchul-bong will bring good luck. Many even consider it is a life-affirming journey. Therefore, the peak is also known under a more florid name, the Sunrise Peak.

Sunrise on Seongsan Ilchul-bong
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Sagumburi

Another unmissable destination in East Jeju is the Sagumburi – a rare, shallow crater that has been designated as a Natural Monument. Unlike its brethren, this volcano exploded quickly but did not eject much lava nor did it form much of a surrounding cone. Instead, a 100m-deep and 650m-wide valley was created inside the crater.

The path leading to the crater’s rim
Silver grass in Sagumburi

Being a protected environment, human activity is restricted inside the Sagumburi crater. Visitors can walk around the crater’s rim. But they are not allowed to venture down into the central area because it is the habitat of over 400 species of flora and fauna. The crater looks most astonishing in late autumn when its ridges are painted gold by a sea of silver grass.

Sea of silver grass
Sagumburi Crater

Practical Information about East Jeju

  • In order to catch the sunrise Seongsan Ilchul-bong, it’s best to stay in a nearby town. You can easily find accommodation in either Seongsan-ri or Goseong-ri. If staying in Jeju City or Seowigpo, you must add another hour to your trip. Buses might not be available at that time, thus renting a car or taxi are the only options.
  • Seongsan Ilchul-bong opens an hour before sunrise all year round. From the entrance, it takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the crater rim.
  • Though the sunrise view is amazing, the view of Seongsan Ilchul-bong is no less impressive. The best places to have a panoramic view of the peak are Gwangchigi Beach (a short walking distance from Goseong-ri) and the coastline of Seopjikoji.
  • Renting a car or getting a taxi are the most convenient ways to reach Sagumburi. Buses are available but they are time-consuming, ranging from 60 minutes (departure from Jeju City) to 90 minutes (departure from Seowigpo).
  • From the entrance, a well-paved path leads to the viewing area, which has a small pavilion and several vista points.
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19 thoughts on “East Jeju: The Tale of A Dramatic Coast”

  1. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
    Jolene says:

    Jeju is just so beautiful and peaceful. You managed to capture the lava tube really well!

    1. Thank you, Jolene! Before seeing this lava tube, I have always thought that lava can only spew out from the crater. Didn’t know that it can create such an extensive system beneath the earth 🙂

  2. Lovely photos. I imagine how nice it must feel for the Koreans from the crowded cities to visit such beautiful and natural places like these in their country.

    1. They love this island! So much that they need hundreds of flights per day. Thank you for your compliment, Pooja 😉

  3. Jeju looks so serene! I especially love your shot of the sea of silver grass waving under the brilliant blue sky!

  4. Arundhati Basu – New Jersey, US – The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.
    Dippy Dotty Girl says:

    If those fields of silver grass look poetic, the shot of sunrise on Seongsan Ilchul-bong is dreamy.

      1. Arundhati Basu – New Jersey, US – The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.
        Dippy Dotty Girl says:

        The morning hour must have lent it that extra

      2. Arundhati Basu – New Jersey, US – The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.
        Dippy Dotty Girl says:

        …something. (to complete the line before it got sent!)

      3. Haha it happened to me as well! Sometimes our fingers are faster than our brain. They push the “send” button before our brain can check 🙂

      4. Arundhati Basu – New Jersey, US – The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.
        Dippy Dotty Girl says:

        It’s freaky!

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