JEJU - This is the last instalment in an 11-part series that introduces some of the best walking trails in Korea. Based on each trail's popularity and the recommendations of travel experts and the Culture Ministry, The Korea Herald selected the 10 best places for walking and hiking. The series received funding from the Korea Press Foundation. ― Ed.
Jeju Olle trail is the first walking trail in Korea developed and built by a journalist-turned-walking enthusiast Seo Myeong-suk. The opening of the first trail in 2007 trigged a nationwide walking boom, inspiring other provinces to create their own trails, even borrowing the name "Olle," a word in Jeju local dialect meaning a narrow alley leading from a house to a main street.
Since Seo Myeong-suk started designing and developing some of the beautiful, hidden trails on Jeju Island in 2007, the Jeju Olle has now opened a total of 21 trails that follow the island's beautiful coastline, go up and down small volcanic hills and take hikers through local villages.
The trails are well-built, clean and easy to walk as they are under constant care by the Jeju government and trail caretakers.
Of the many trails, courses 7 and 8 are two of the trails most frequently visited by tourists and novice walkers. They are well-known for having diverse features of the beautiful Jeju Island landscape that range from towering cliffs, rocky shores and sandy beaches to small ports and local residents' front doors.
"Course 7 has the reputation of being the prettiest path of the Olle trails. It has the least artificial road built with asphalt or cement. The scenes looking on the cliffs are just breathtaking," said Kim Mi-sun, voluntary caretaker of trail 7 who runs a small café at the start of the trail.
Each course has a caretaker, who maintains the trail by making sure ribbons indicating directions are tied, assisting visitors with directions and cleaning. The ribbons and signs help walkers not get lost along the course.
Course 7 starts at a narrow seaside trail that overlooks Oedolgae Rock. The site attracts hundreds of tourists as it was featured in the popular 2003 TV series "Daejangguem." A big picture of actress Lee Young-ae, who played the main role in the drama, is placed on the trail, serving as a photo spot for tourists.