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Where is Ieodo?

Legend is extracted from the book 'We're going to Ieodo ① - In search of Ieodo', written by Eunhee Kim (2001).

If you ask "Do you know Ieodo?" to people on the road in Jeju, nine out of ten might answer, "Yes, I do". Then ask them, "What is Ieodo like?" What will the answers be? They might vary from people to people.

At present, people in JeJu are picturing Ieodo in their own way no matter what folk tale first started, and what folk song contained the story. Of course, sometimes they tell Ieodo as they have been told. What is clear is that they see Ieodo in many different ways.

However, there is something strange in common among all the different recognition of Ieodo that people in Jejudo have - duality. In other words, the island gives contradictory images and impression to people: despair and hope; yearning to visit but never been there while alive; invisible but hovering around the horizon. All different things make a strange harmony.

For a long time, there had been a dream of " Ieodo" in Jeju. A dream that old people in Jeju had, who lived their lives in the land with frequent winds and many stones, and at the same time the place that women divers had always missed even during their working, that is Ieodo. The island was utopia that people in Jeju dreamed about.

Sometimes, dream may come true, and sometimes not. However, what we have to pay attention is why the people in Jeju had such dream about the island. What were their lives like at that time to make them have such a dream?

Dream is something made by both the mind desiring to avoid hard situations and in the opposite the will to overcome such harsh reality. In this context, to people in Jeju, the question "Where is Ieodo?" holds the same meaning as how they pictured Ieodo.

We can guess that Ieodo which Jeju residents pictured might display the opposite concept to their own reality of that time.

Stories on Ieodo

Once upon a time, there lived a couple in a village in Jejudo. One day the husband went out to the sea on a boat, but failed to come back. The boat struggled with wind and waves and was drifted to an island. That island was none other than Ieodo.

One folk tale says the wife also left to the island after waiting for her husband for a long time, while another folk tale says that the wife sang a song about Ieodo missing her husband. There is also a folk tale saying that Ieodo the husband arrived was the island of widows. A different folk tale says that the husband and wife all died amid their return to home.

Legend on Moseulpo recorded by a Japanese named Dakahashi

Ieodo in Legend

At the time of the 3rd year of King Chung Yeol in Goryeo Dynasty, Jeju had to pay tribute to China every year, starting from the control of the governor from Yuan until the end of Yuan. This ship for tribute departed at Moseulpo, Deajung in Northwest of Jeju bound for Sandong in North.

If the time was not known, the first son of Mr. Kang, broker of marine transport industry owned these ships for tribute, and several big ships made crossing over the ocean with tribute filled. However, one day, the tribute ships never came back.

Mr. Kang had an old wife. As she couldn't cope with her sadness, she wrote and sang a song which began and ended with "Ah, Ah, Ieodoo ya, Ieodo. Its melody was terribly sad.

Legend from Jocheon recorded by Seong-gi Jin

On that night, the moon was crescent, but was exceptionally bright. Dongji Go called his wife's name more than 100 times, wandering around the seashore and looking at the far-off horizon. Whenever the moon was bright, he missed her more and more, then he would come to the seashore. The sea sang a gentle melody, so he also sang a song sadly, consoling himself to the tune of waves.

The song went that "Ieodo" is in the half way to Kangnam, so please call him. People on Ieodo gathered together to listen to his song, and many women sympathized him. There were many women sobbing after listening to his song. After a while, there was nobody who didn't know the song of "Ieodo"

Luckily, Dongji Go ran into a Chinese merchant ship, and came back home with the help of the ship. At that time, a woman on the Island followed him to come to Jeju. Home towners who had thought that he would die of the storm, welcomed him and threw a party to see him back alive. They all made a happy home as one family.

The woman following Dongji Go from 'Ieodo' was called Yeodot Grandma(grandmother of Ieodo) by villagers and was worshiped as goddess of the village after passing away. "Janggwidong High Place in Jochunri is the very altar for her.

Legend from Donggimnyeongri recorded by Yongjun Hyun and Yeongdon Kim

Once upon a time, there lived a husband in one village, who abandoned his wife and lived a happy life with his concubine on the uninhabited Island of Ieodo. The wife who had lost her husband lived with her father-in-law, however one day, she asked him a favor.

“Father, could you make a boat for me?”
“What for?”
“I want to go find my husband.”
The father-in-law made a boat of wood from the high ground of Seonhall, in order to fulfill his daughter-in-law's wish. One sunny day, she left to Ieodo with her father-in-law, where her husband lived. The way to Ieodo was far and hard.

She reached Ieodo with difficulty, singing a boating song of 'Ieodossana, 'Ieodossana" and rowing the boat. Her husband really lived a happy life with his new wife.

When her husband was persuaded by his father and the wife, he couldn't help but go back to his home town with his family. When the family was nearing toward the hometown, the sudden storm hit them and all the family couldn't survive.

After that, villagers performed sacrificial rite, like a religious service for the god of the mountain, feeling pity for the family who died in the storm.

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