About Jeongbang Falls (jeongbang pokpo [정방폭포])
Jeongbang Falls (Jeongbang Pokpo [정방폭포]) was perhaps the most famous and photogenic waterfall in Korea (let alone Jeju Island, where it’s located).
This waterfall stands out because it spills onto a rocky shore facing the East China Sea while also being 23m tall and up to 10m wide (so it’s certainly one of the country’s bigger waterfalls).
Even before we visited Korea, in recent years, we’ve seen the Jeongbang Falls blow up on the socials as the poster child of waterfalls in Korea let alone Jeju Island.
In addition to its scenic allure, it only took a 250m walk to get from the ticket office (see directions below) to the base of the falls.
Indeed, this was a really busy waterfall where both international visitors and Korean visitors alike share this spot at any one time.
I even witnessed a young woman singing into a smart phone on a selfie-stick in front of the waterfall, and she had a legitimate voice (making me wonder if she was a recording artist or just a vlogger or both).
Experiencing Jeongbang Falls
After paying the admission (2000 won per adult and 1000 won for young adults up to age 24 during our late June 2023 visit), we then walked down steps to a lookout providing us a teasing glimpse of the Jeongbang Falls.
The path then descended more steps towards the rocky shoreline where some locals have set up a little market or seaweed harvesting area while most tourists scramble onto the rocks for a frontal view of the main waterfall.
From what I could tell, almost no one went across the stream for a different perspective on the falls.
Meanwhile, the waterfall was big enough and with enough water volume to make sightseeing a bit of a tricky affair when you’re too close to the base of the falls.
However, I’ve found some success scrambling furhter downstream to get a more contextual look at the falls dwarfing people standing before it.
It only took about 60 minutes to experience the falls (though we lingered around for quiet a while), and we pretty much returned the way we came except where the entrance and exits were at two different spots.
History And Legends At Jeongbang Falls
Once back at the main walking path by the cafes and food stands, I did notice that there were other exhibitions and a museum further to the west of the Jeongbang Falls.
I ultimately checked out the Seobok Bullocho Park, which was kind of a park-like garden and open area with some memorials and structures to check out.
It was here that I learned about the Jeju 4.3 Incident, which was one of the more painful chapters in the history of Jeju Island.
This incident, which took place on April 3, 1948, concerns a massacre that took place targeting people who were active in pushing Korea to be an independent nation.
It was said that some 235 people, including children, were targeted for killing, detention, and torture by Korean police and military forces under the control of US military forces occupying Jeju Island (and other parts of the south of Korea).
I definitely noticed the juxtaposition between tourist attraction down below and the tragic events that took place here some 75 years earlier (and many bodies still have yet to be found).
In addition to the Jeju 4.3 Incident, the first Chinese emperor Shi Huangdi from the Qin Dynastry commissioned Xu Fu to search for the “elixir of eternal life”.
According to Korean legend, Xu Fu (but I’ve also seen the name Seo Bok or Seo Bul thrown around) went to Hallasan on Jeju Island, but wasn’t successful in his search for that elixir.
He ultimately inscribed in Hangja “Xu Shi passes by this place” before leaving (though apparently he never returned to China).
Apparently, some claim that the place name Seogwipo came from Xu Fu’s visit to the Jeongbangpokpo Waterfall, and apparently the Xu Fu Museum was built in 2003 to commemorate this.
I came across a very interesting op-ed article to gain a little better understanding of the legend of Xu Fu, and you can read about it here.
Jeonbang Falls resides within the city of Seogwipo, Jeju-do Province, South Korea. It may be administered by the local authorities in Seogwipo. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website for leads.
Jeongbang Falls pretty much resides on the southern shores pretty much at the south side of the city of Seogwipo-si.
Rather than confuse you with a bunch of turn-by-turn directions that won’t mean anything to you, I’ll just tell you that it’s best to use a Korean routing software on a phone that’s hooked up to a Korean Network (as Google Maps doesn’t work in Korea).
We prefer using a SIM card with an unlimited data plan for this purpose so we shouldn’t be running out of data while routing (while also allowing us to use that phone as a hot spot).
Regardless of what your current location is (and South Korea is as well-connected of a country as I had ever seen), use Kakao Map app to navigate your way through all the city streets, interchanges, and local rural roads.
It even tells you the whereabouts of speed bumps, school zones, speed cameras, and all the particulars about which lane to take when there’s a decision point with multiple lanes involved.
The only catch to using Kakao Map (or any other Korean routing app) is that you’ll need to at least learn how to put your place names in Hangeul (the Korean writing system).
That’s because using romanized words and expecting the app to find it doesn’t always work, but placenames in Hangeul almost always can be found in the app.
Anyways, in our example, we were coming from the Seogwipo KAL Hotel, so with that as our starting point (출발), we set up 정방폭포 주차장 (Jeongbang Falls Parking Lot) as the destination (도착).
This route took us about 5 minutes to go the 2km distance, but we had to be really careful of the busy five-way intersection at the entrance to the hotel because there was no traffic light!
If we were coming from the Jungmun Tourist Complex, then it would take about 30 minutes to go the 17km distance.
Finally, if we were coming from Jeju-si City, it should take about an hour to go the 43km distance.
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