Forest is Beckoning
Mt. Halla is in the distance, and oreum volcanic cones are stretched around it for a panoramic view. Any way you turn from the middle of a woodland track, you’re bound to see towering trees. Seogwipo Healing Forest is all about tranquility and healing.
In his book , Shin Won-sop, forestry scientist and former head of the Korea Forest Service, wrote, “We’re happy just being inside a forest, or being able to see a forest in the distance over the windows.” Shin also stated, “Studies on forests and nature have said forests help people with their self-awareness and self-consciousness, thus allowing us to be more of ourselves in life.” No one would rather see skyscrapers or a sea of apartment buildings every time they look out the windows. We all want to see trees and want to walk among those trees. Forests can make us happy and heal us, too.

Walking between towering cedar trees is healing in itself.

Magical Healing by Forest
Drive up from Jeju, past Mt. Halla 1100 Highland and follow along Sanroknamro to the south of the mountain, and you’ll arrive at Seogwipo Healing Forest (Healing Forest henceforth). The forest is connected to Sioreum, which looks out to the southern side of Mt. Halla. Compared to other oreum cones, the path leading to Sioreum is quite hilly.
For Jeju natives, the name Healing Forest is an unfamiliar one, because it has long been called simply Sioreum. There are still taxi drivers or villagers who draw blank at that new name. The areas surrounding the forest used to be fields for slash-and-burn farmers. Cows and horses were raised in a nearby ranch. Sioreum was blessed with trees and grass. Then in 2016, it was designated as the first Healing Forest on the island.
The forest, from 320 meters to 760 meters above sea level, covers 1.74 million ㎡. Some 150 species of vegetation can be found at a warm-temperate forest, a temperate forest and a frigid forest. Cypress trees and cedar trees that have been around for 60 years fill up each forest.
The Healing Forest features paths that stretch for 15 kilometers combined, including Gameong Omeong Path, Gabettorong Healing Path, Benjolong Healing Path, Sandorok Healing Path and Umburang Healing Path.

There are several resting spots along the way.

Walls built with Jeju stones to help protect the forest

Braille signs on Nogorok Mujangaenanumgil

Tranquil Forest
The Healing Forest was built to let everyone and anyone come in to enjoy trees and heal. It becomes apparent right from its starting point, Nogorok Mujangaenanumgil. Nogorok means ‘comfortable’ in Jeju dialect, and it’s an accessible path. At 1 km long, it’s not as long as other paths at the Healing Forest. Those on wheelchairs, the elderlies and children can all enjoy this path.
Gameong Omeong is the longest and the main path at the Healing Forest. It covers about 1.9 kilometers, from the entrance to the forest to the healing center. Before the Healing Forest was formed, this was the main track for people who managed the area. You can spot most of the species that are native to the forest. There are resting spots along the way. People who sign up for programs listen to their guides in these spots.
The Healing Forest features several different tracks that fork into different directions. At the onset, you can either choose Gameong or Omeong, the former going out 2 km along another small path and the latter covering 1 km through the trees.

The wooden path leads to Sioreum.

Vines grow on trees throughout the forest.

Follow the main track for about 1 km and you will reach Umburang Forest, with another short path of about 700 m in length on the side. That’s Umburang Healing Path. Umburang is the Jeju dialect for ‘humongous.’ Guides say you absolutely have to take a walk there, even if you may be running short on time.
Towering cedars line the path for a breathtaking view. If you’re ever there at dawn, it may even feel like being in some fantasy film. But rather than being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the trees, you’ll feel the sensation of being embraced by them. This forest earned ‘Life Award’ at the 17th Beautiful Forest National Contest.
Off Umburang Healing Path and back on Gameong Omeong Path, you’ll reach Ogosaengi Healing Path and Gaberottong Healing Path. Ogosaengi means ‘as it is’ in Jeju dialect, and the stone track there offers a sense of comfort and peace with its basalt and volcanic rocks. And basalt and volcanic rocks are everywhere inside the Healing Forest, some on the path and others piled up in the typical Jeju style. And there are also rocks scattered on the ground. Walls made of volcanic rocks fit in nicely with trees.
At the end of Umburang Healing Path is a hilly track leading to Sioreum. It’s a tough 1 km walk up the hill tightly guarded by trees. But Mt. Halla viewed from the top of Sioreum gives off a different impression than the one seen from the road.

Mt. Halla seen from the top of Sioreum

Cheonnamseong in the forest. It was used for poison in the past.

Mushroom bloomed on the pillar of a fallen tree

Healing Programs
The Healing Forest is the ‘wellness’ tourist destination as selected by the Korea Tourism Organization. And it offers a wide variety healing programs for its visitors, giving them an opportunity to fully enjoy the nature aside from the simple walk among the trees.
The Healing Forest wants to help people use different natural elements of trees to improve their immune system and maintain their health by promoting harmony between human and nature. There are three programs: ‘Ttaro Tto Gachi’ (for families), ‘Yeolgo, Mannago, Nanugo!’ (for office workers) and ‘Nogorokheogemassim!’ (for adults). ‘Nogorokheoge’ is the Jeju dialect meaning ‘relaxed.’
Each program runs for three hours, with an instructor offering guidance. You get to walk among the trees and do stretching and mediating. Then inside the Healing Center at the end of the forest, you get to enjoy a chat over tea and take a foot bath. It will put your mind and body at ease. Programs run twice a day, and each slot is limited to 10 people.

A house inside the forest

The healing center, with healing programs

You can also sign up for a healing program whereby you listen to the guide as you walk in the forest. The guide will accompany you on Gweyoungsutgulbomeong Course. The stories of the forest and the nature, and of the life of Jeju people in the past as told through the charcoal kiln site at Shemeong Healing Path, will make you feel that much more connected with Jeju. This program starts at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day.
You’re not permitted to bring in food other than bottled water. But you can order Charong Healing Meal, Jeju staples served inside a bamboo basket. Pyogo mushroom from Mt. Halla, hijiki rice ball, abalone and bing tteok (buckwheat pancake). It’s a popular item that requires pre-order, but it’s not available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You must make reservations for all programs at the Healing Forest. Only 300 people per weekday (600 per weekend day) are allowed inside. Masks are obviously mandatory, and you must wear running shoes or hiking shoes. For complete healing experience, you have to bring the right mindset.

Address 2217 Sanroknamro, Seogwipo, Jeju Island
Phone +82-64-760-3067~8
Hours Summer Season (April~October) 08:00~18:00 / Winter Season (November~March) 09:00~17:00
Website Seogwipo Healing Forest

Where to Stay in Jeju: LOTTE HOTEL JEJU
Located in Jungmun Tourist Complex, LOTTE HOTEL JEJU is a resort hotel with 500 rooms. Inspired by ‘The Palace of the Lost City’ in South Africa, the hotel blends in perfectly with the beautiful surroundings of Jeju, creating an exotic atmosphere. All-day dining restaurant THE CANVAS serves over 140 dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients hand-picked by hotel chefs. The all-season, warm-water pool and Hello Kitty character room are among various features that make LOTTE HOTEL JEJU such a popular destination for families and couples.

Address 35, Jungmungwangwang-ro 72beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju Island
Phone +82-64-731-1000
July 2021 Editor:Jung Jaewook
Photographer:Kim Zun

Where to stay?

  • July 2021
  • Editor: Jung Jaewook
  • Photographer: Kim Zun
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