Forget about lava tubes and Halla Mountain…Jeju’s most well-known attraction among expats, not surprisingly, is Loveland.
It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m awoken by Marie kicking my feet. She’s standing above me looking down and tells me it’s time to go. I met Marie only seven hours earlier, and had gone to sleep only two hours before after a somaek bender that is generally uncharacteristic for me. But it was Friday night, a beautiful night in Seoul, and we were all headed to Jeju Island early Saturday morning. Marie is in rough shape, but I immediately realize that I’m much worse off. It’s not that I’m hungover, it’s that I’m still drunk. Again, not my usual style, and something you’ll likely never read about again.
We had spent the night in a jimjilbang, which basically consisted of sleeping on the floor while trying not to roll over in my sleep onto the Korean girl that I don’t know who’s asleep on my right. The overnight stay at a jimjilbang only set us back about 6 dollars, so it’s a popular choice for a cheap place to spend a night and many travellers in Korea use them to crash as they move across the country.
Five minutes later and we’re in the scorching heat, traipsing down the road to the airport. Most of us look about the same as I feel. At then time speeds forward at a shocking pace. I’m board the plane, pass out again, sleep for an hour, and wake up on Jeju Island. As the bus rolls up to our first destination, I’m sucking back as much Pocari Sweat as I can, having downed two double espressos from Starbucks a few minutes before.
Korea gets the reputation of being sexually conservative, which, on the surface is true. Though pornography is legal, making it in Korea is strictly illegal. Nudity is never shown on television, and when it pops up in movies, it’s protested. I say on the surface because there’s a lesser-known side to Korea. Like the fact that if you walk for five minutes down the street from my apartment and pass a string of brothels. Not to mention a half-dozen other thinly veiled pseudonyms for sex-trade businesses that exist in this country (more on that another time).
Despite this outward shyness, Loveland is essentially a park that celebrates the birds and the bees while you walk amongst the birds and the bees. No position goes unexplored. In my sorry state, I wasn’t much in the mood for arousal, yet to be honest, the park doesn’t necessarily seem to be designed for arousing. It’s more about curiosities, abnormalities, and parodying the act that all brought us into the world. It’s a strange little world, but one worth visiting if you ever find yourself hungover under the palm trees of the beautiful Jeju Island.
Photos NSFW (Not Safe for Work).