Jeju Island

©Wikimedia Commons/Martin Chen
Jeju Island

Jeju Island biosphere reserve is situated in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and covers a lava plateau with a shield volcano at an elevation of 1,950 meters above sea level. The biosphere reserve is located at the center of the island, comprising in its core area Mt. Halla National Park, two stream corridors and three islets. Many number of species inhabit in Jeju Island. The major industries in Jeju Island are tourism, agriculture, and stock-farming.

Designation date: 2002
Administrative authorities: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
Surface area (terrestrial and marine): 83,094 ha
Core area(s): 15,158 ha
Buffer zone(s): 14,601 ha
Transition area(s): 53,335 ha

Location
Latitude:
33°12'27"N - 33°26'44"N
Longitude: 126°23'06"E - 126°40'29"E
Midpoint: 33°21'29"N - 126°31'53"E

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/Anne Morkill
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus)

Jeju is a volcanic island, formed approximately two million years ago. It embraces four major ecosystems of biogeographic regions; alpine coniferous forest, temperate broadleaf forest, warm temperate evergreen lucidophyll forest, and temperate grass land.  The core area that is protected as a national park is located in the center of Jeju Island.

Many endangered plants and animals inhabit in Jeju Island. 134 taxa of Korean endemic plants are distributed in Jeju Island. 90 taxa among the 134 are Jeju endemic plants. In particular, 28 taxa of Korea or Jeju endemic plants are distributed around the summit of Mt. Hallasan. These species need to be protected due to global warming.

©Miguel Clüsener-Godt
Jeju Island Multi-Internationally Designated Site

Among the animals, a total of 103 species inhabit in Jeju Island. These include the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), damselfish (Chromis notata) and the Jeju horse, a horse breed native to Jeju Island. Endangered species such as green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas japonica), black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) and steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) appear on the island as well.

Jeju Island is the only place where all four Internationally Designated Areas occur at the same location. These include: Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes World Heritage Site, Jeju Island Biosphere Reserve, Jeju Island UNESCO Global Geopark and 2 RAMSAR wetland sites: 1100 Altitude Wetland and Muljangori-Oreaum Wetland.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

©Miguel Clüsener-Godt
Haenyeo

Jeju Island residents are not significantly different in racial background from those in the main land of Korea. However, the geographic character as an isolated island has developed its own distinctive dialect, culture, and custom. Approximately 20,000 inhabitants live in the biosphere reserve. The major industries in Jeju Island include tourism, agriculture and fishery.

In addition, Jeju Island has a diving tradition dating back to 434 C.E. called Haenyeo (sea women). Haenyeo is the only traditional occupation in Korea to catch seafood in the ocean without any machinery equipment.The life cycle for Haenyeo is from 15 years old until they have difficulty to move freely in the sea. Once retired, they take an important role as marine intellectuals and guards protecting marine resources. As of 2010, 4,996 Haenyeo reside in Jeju Island. However, they are in the process of aging. Due to the lack of successors in accordance with economic development in other industries, Haenyeo is on the brink of extinction. It is therefore necessary to establish the preservation policy of the Haenyeo culture.


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                                                                                   Last update: September 2016

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