The world's busiest air route is between Seoul and the 'South Korean Hawaii'

Republic of Korea / FlickrJeju Island, South Korea.

What’s the most popular air route in the world?

New York to LA? London to Paris? Beijing to Shanghai?

Chances are your first guess wasn’t the domestic flight between Seoul and Jeju, the capital of Jejudo island in South Korea. Last year, almost 65,000 flights made the journey between the two cities. The next busiest air route, Tokyo to Sapporo, didn’t even come close with just under eight million passengers.

Flights from Seoul to Jeju are so popular that you can board one every 15 minutes. There are around 250 flights that make the journey in either direction every day,according to Google.

Most of the tourism is domestic – Jeju is often touted as the “Hawaii of South Korea” – though it is not just Koreans that are lured by its beauty. In 2014, Jeju was behind the spike in Chinese tourists visiting the Republic of Korea, according to Chinese travel giant Ctrip. The Chinese are largely flocking to the island because of its visa-free entry requirements and abundance of casinos, which are banned in China.

The pictures below show why honeymooners and holidaymakers come in droves to bask in Jeju’s natural beauty.

The world’s most popular plane journey, from Seoul to Jeju (the capital of Jejudo island in South Korea), takes just under an hour. You can buy tickets for around £50-£120 ($US65-$US157) each way.

Google Maps

Source: Google Flights.

According to the Republic of Korea’s official Flickr page, Jejudo is “a special self-governing province … the only special autonomous province of Korea, situated on and coterminous with the country’s largest island.”

Kara Watkins

Source: Flickr.

This means the island retains a level of autonomy — hence why almost every country in the world is allowed a temporary visit, visa-free.

Kara Watkins

In 2011, Jeju was named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Source: New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Its defining physical characteristic is Hallasan volcano. At 1,950 metres, it’s South Korea’s highest peak.

Republic of Korea / FlickrJeju Island, South Korea.

Hallasan goes by a number of names including Mt. Yeongjusan, meaning “mountain high enough to pull the galaxy.” Legend has it a white deer used to drink from the water that collects in the crater of the volcano.

Sources: Visit Korea, Encyclopedia of Korean Culture.

Thanks to the island’s volcanic origins, its core is interspersed with weaving tubes formed by ancient lava, which can now be accessed as an excursion.

Jejudo island is home to Haenyo mermaids — freedivers that risk life and limb to catch oysters and other creatures lurking on the sea bed. The so-called “sea women” hold their breath for two minutes, diving to depths of 65 metres with no equipment.

Chung Sung-Jun / Getty

Source: Business Insider.

It’s also the site of a bizarre theme park named “Love Land.” The park runs sex education films and features 140 sculptures representing humans in various sexual positions.

Chung Sung-Jun / Getty

Source: Visit Korea.

According to locals, though, Jeju has a dark side. In 1948, an uprising led by communist sympathisers was violently repressed by the Korean government and the US military. Thirty thousand islanders died and many more were subject to atrocities due to the uprising. In 1992, a cave was found with bodies of uprising victims.

Wikimedia Commons

Source: Washington Post, Jeju Weekly

Today, many people arrive under the umbrella of “dark tourism” to experience the harrowing history of the island through places like the 4.3 Peace Park memorial, seen below.

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