Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산일출봉), meaning “Seongsan Rising Sun Peak” 1 , is a volcanic cone formed by eruptions on a shallow seabed around 5,000 years ago. Located on the east coast of Jeju Island in South Korea , near the small town of Seongsan, and said to resemble a gigantic ancient castle, this 182-meter-tall cone has a preserved bowl-shaped crater and also features various internal structures resulting from marine erosion. These features are considered to be of geological value, as they provide information about the eruptive processes of volcanoes around the world as well as the volcanic activity of Seongsan Ilchulbong itself.
It is a satellite volcano of Hallasan , the island’s main mountain, with which it is listed as a World Heritage Site in the Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tunnels group .
The dates of the emergence of Seongsan Ilchulbong are different and vary between a period of 5000 years ago to 120,000 years ago. What is certain, however, is that it was formed from a hydromagmatic eruption in which magma came into contact with sea or ground water. The water vapor released as a result shattered the surrounding rock and blasted a crater in the rock. A wall of ejected country rock was then deposited around the crater.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone was formed by Surtseyan-type hydrovolcanic activity upon a shallow seabed about 5,000 years ago when the sea level was same as the present. Most volcanic cones or oreums (Jeju dialect for volcanic cones) were formed by piles of scoria cones which are created by Hawaiian eruptions or Strombolian eruptions. But Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone and a few other oreums on Jeju Island were hydromagmatic volcanoes which were made by piles of volcanic ash, the interaction of hot ascending magma and seawater or ground water. Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone is 182 meters high, and its crater is about 600 meters in diameter. It has a dip of strata up to 45 degrees and is 90 meters from sea level to the crater floor.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone erupted in very moist and sticky conditions allowing a lot of water to permeate into the volcanic vent, making the diverse depositional features of a wet eruption. The wet hydrovolcanic activity continued until the end of the eruption. Consequently, the tuff has a bowl-like crater unfilled by scoria or lava.
Except for the northwestern park, the Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone forms a steep cliff because of the resultant wave following its eruptions. Through these eruptions, Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone shows a perfect cross section from the intracrater strata to the marginal strata. Its diverse geological structures are considered to have great geological importance because they may be used to interpret not only the past volcanic activity of the Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone but also eruptive and depositional processes of hydromagmatic volcanoes worldwide.
There are numerous hydromagmatic volcanoes similar to the Seongsan Ilchulbong, but there are no other known hydromagmatic volcanoes with a well-preserved tuff cone and diverse internal structures along a sea cliff. Because of these scientific values and remarkable scenery, Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone was able to be designated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site and it is worth preserving permanently as a natural heritage of humankind.
How to Climb Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
There are two hiking trails to reach Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, and you can choose one of them. It takes about 20 minutes to hike up the mountain and 20 mins to climb down. In total, it took at least 40 minutes for a quick visit.
Halfway through the mountain, you could already see a small part of the eastern part of Jeju Island. Blue sea, white sand, and the city in the distance form beautiful scenery.
On this trail, wherever you take pictures is beautiful and equally romantic. Both sides of the road have different vegetation for you to linger to learn and take pictures.
Transportation : From Jeju International Airport, take bus 110-1 (2 hours, 1,150 won); from Jeju City Intercity Bus Terminal (제주시외버스터미널), take bus 210-1, 210-2 (inland route, 1:20-1:30 hrs, 1,150 won) or 201 (coastal route, 1:45 hrs, 1,150 won) ); from Seogwipo, take the 201 bus (1h30, 1150 won).
Prices : adults, 5,000 won (about 3.90 USD); children, 2,000 won (about 1.80 USD)
Official opening hours : 7:10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter. As of July 2019, and for preservation purposes, access to the peak peak will be closed every first Monday of the month. On the other hand, access to the intermediate platform and the coastal path will remain open.