Considered one of Korea’s greatest beauty spots by locals and international visitors alike, Jeju Island continues to be a must-go travel destination for business events and leisure. This appeal, bolstered by the growth of Jeju’s meetings infrastructure – especially in the Jungmun Resort zone, has led to a whole culture of teambuilding activities that capitalize on the island’s distinctive culture and unique geology. Below are some popular local activities that have inspired corporate groups to bond and discover Jeju together.
Folk Village Fun
If you’re going to explore a traditional folk village, it always helps to dress for the occasion. This is exactly what your team can do at Jeju Minsokchon, located along the south coast a short drive from Seogwipo. Designed to recreate the look and feel of a Jeju-style urban center circa-1890, the village contains 117 faithfully-recreated hanok (traditional Korean houses), along with other structures, furnishings and items of everyday life as used by the islanders in the late 19th Century.
Your group can get in the mood for all this by putting on authentic period hanbok (Korean dress) at the village, pose for Instagram-worthy photos, create mission-based games, or just enjoy stepping back in time together through Korea’s colorful past. To add to the experience, different sections of Minsokchon have been designed to evoke different types of Jeju villages, such as mountain, Shamanist, and fishing settlements. Some sections even show the still-standing sets used to film Dae Jang Geum, one of Korea’s all-time favorite international TV exports.
Exploring a traditional Korean market has always been a good way to discover the everyday needs and specialties of the locals and their culture, however it can be even more fun with specific goals that groups can achieve together. The sky’s the limit with teambuilding mission objectives, with taking photos at specific market locations, dispatching groups to purchase specific items – including Jeju’s specialty goods – just some ideas to try.
Two especially-recommended markets are Dongmun Market for those based in Jeju City, and Maeil Olle Market for those in Seogwipo. Conveniently close to Jeju International Airport, Dongmun Market is the island capital’s go-to venue for fresh and affordable items, while Maeil Olle is Seogwipo’s largest marketplace. Local specialty items to look out for at both include Jeju fruits such as the hallabong (mandarin) and gamgyul (tangerine), as well as chocolates with fruit fillings (like gamgyul and cactus), bamboo products, and dried seafood caught fresh from the surrounding oceans. Feel like trying Korean alcohol? Look for Jeju gamgyul (감귤) or hallabong (한라봉) makgeolli (막걸리, a type of rice wine).
Dive and Dine
With farm-to-table being all the rage, what better way to capitalize on this in Korea than to take your team through the whole process with the locals in sunny Jeju? The experience will be all the more unique since Jeju’s isolated island environment has led to many unique cultural practices distinct from the mainland over the centuries, with the haenyeo, or ‘sea women’, perhaps being the most shining example. The term haenyeo refers to the women of the island who dive into the seas of Jeju for marine riches destined for local dinner tables.
The exact origins of this now female-only tradition are still debated, however its exclusivity to Jeju over the centuries has since earned it UNESCO recognition. Not only are the haenyeo some of the world’s best divers; they also practice their skill free of air tanks and many use their daily hauls to run their own restaurants, which close for the day as soon as the ingredients run out.
The good news is that group visitors can experience the haenyeo lifestyle for themselves in the village of Hado-ri, an area especially famed for sea women. From March-December, parties of at least 5 can suit up and dive in the shallows with haenyeo for local sea specialties, collect crabs and other shellfish near the shore, or even try their hand at fishing. They can then have the ultimate satisfaction in eating their catches cooked specially at a local restaurant. [Learn more]