The abandoned resort of Saurabol on Jeju island
Jeju island at the southern tip of South Korea is (apparently) famous for three things- wind, rocks, and beautiful women. I didn’t see many of the latter, but can attest to both of the former, plus a fourth- haikyo resort hotels. Without really going out of our way on a recent holiday there, SY and I stumbled across four abandoned resorts, two of them pretty grand. All of them had been deserted mid-way through construction, leaving only the bones of their underlying structure.
The Saurabol central entrance.
Jeju is a resort island about 80km across, and relies principally on tourism for its income. We went there for a week, staying in three different locations with three different flavors. The first was a ‘pension’, a Western-style boarding-house where we had our own kitchen and BBQ kit on the balcony. Unfortunately I was kind of sick for this stage, so mostly just lay on the bed focusing on feeling better.
Our next hotel was in the Chongmun resort section, with lots of high-class hotels and kind of a Disneyland feel. The Lotte hotel next to us had three massive windmills and a lake and canal system in its grounds. From our balcony I spied a grand-looking grey building, I guessed haikyo. I asked the bell-hop what it was, but he had no idea. The concierge didn’t know either, but asked some of her colleagues who confirmed it was a ruin, a 5-star hotel named ‘Saurabol’, abandoned mid-construction about 10 years ago.
Cool, I thought. The next morning (having recovered from my sickness) we headed out to check it out. I wasn’t carrying my D90 for this trip, since it’s heavy and I didn’t want to lug it around with me every day on the off-chance of seeing haikyo. Instead I had my compact Canon Powershot. Being forced to use a simpler camera was quite revealing though- it let me see the limitations of it better, the power of the D90 more. Chiefly I missed the wider lenses and bracketing ability.
As seen from our 8th floor hotel balcony. Big.
Standing in front, looking left.
Head to one of the 6 flanking blocks.
Approaching the place was very simple- we just got a taxi driver to drop us off. Taxis are super cheap in Korea. We climbed over the fence, and through the vegetation. About halfway to the grey concrete the bushes in front of me rustled, then exploded with a squawk. A fat pheasant popped out and flew off. Shocking. I tried to capture another one on camera, but SY said it had already happened to her twice (!!) while I was round the other end shooting the facade. I guess she flushed them all out, because I couldn`t find any more.
Ground floor, pipes growing like cacti through cement.
Out through the entrance.
A fenced-off hole. Nothing down there but a shallow foundation filled with water.
SY framed this shot- the odd tower in the right background is part of one of the theme-park-ish hotels.
Precarious looking steps.
Down on the steps.
Once inside the floor was strewn with long rusted nails, interspersed with the occasional golf ball. Next to the resort was an active golf course. While we stood on the roof some golfers walked by, staring at us.
Down into the main lobby.
Nicely posed workbench by the edge.
In and out.
Up on the roof.
Buildings like cliffs, vines like the sea, lapping.
Very big chunk of masonry dangling ona few metal threads.
That same workbench from the other side, the adjoining building.
During the rest of the holiday we stumbled on three other haikyo, two of which I shot. There were also numerous caves and bunkers in the island’s volcanic rock and coastline, built and used by the Japanese in the period of their occupying Korea. It’s funny how in Japan you never see any mementos of that (quite recent) period of history. In Korea though they are all around.
Finally, a short movie. I wonder that I haven’t made a haikyo movie for a long time. For a while I was really into editing video. Then that just went away. Hmm, anyway-
See a curation of world ruins in the ruins gallery.
See my collection of Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:
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