The scenic view of landmark Seongsan Ilchulbong with Dol hareubang, Grandfather statue as a symbol of fertility and protection on Jeju Island, South Korea. Photo / Getty news.com.au
When it comes to escaping the winter, a few places come to mind.
The sandy shores of Hawaii, or maybe a cocktail at a coastal cafe in the Greek Islands. If you want to keep your sun chasing a little closer to home, perhaps a flight to Thailand or a few days poolside in Bali is more to your liking.
But it turns out Australians are opting to go to an island a little further away from their home — and it’s a spot you may never have considered travelling to until now.
It’s been called the Island of Love — a small patch of land 130km south of the Korean mainland.
With its year-round pleasant climate, the tiny speck — officially known as Jeju Island — is a popular romantic holiday destination for South Korean locals and foreigners alike, with tourism making up a large chunk of its economy.
But in the past year, the island’s appeal has played on Australian travellers so much — Jeju has received a 180 per cent boom in bookings since this time last year — it has overtaken the popularity of places like Bali and Thailand.
The study, conducted by online travel website Wotif, shows the island — which is about the size of Sydney’s inner west — is luring Aussie tourists in with its beaches, nature experiences and extensive volcanic remains.
“If you’re yet to organise your own winter getaway, the best thing is that regardless of whether you’re staying local or heading overseas, each of these destinations is within easy reach of Australia, promising good accommodation, warm temperatures and value for money,” Wotif travel expert, Chris Milligan, said of the island.
As an island, it goes without saying you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches, waterfalls, rock formations, mountains and volcanoes to explore.
But it’s the underlying love affair with sex that is getting the island more and more attention.
Called Love Land, the erotic theme park is home to over 140 saucy and sensual sculptures that all have one thing in common: sex.
“Love Land is an erotic theme park which aims to make people feel comfortable about sex through sculptures as opposed to restricting it to being a discreet topic,” general manager Lee Songhyn told the BBC.
“The park was built on Jeju Island because of its relevance to history and culture. Jeju was such an isolated place known for exiles that its culture developed independent of the mainland.
“Because most people were involved in the fishing industry on the island, many men died at sea in accidents, causing an increased number of widows.
“This is why the island tended to be more open to sensual love compared to other regions in Korea.”
But that’s not the only part of the island dedicated to all thing sex.
On the other side of Jeju is a five-hectare park with more than 1000 artworks and 3000 books on display in a one-hectare building.
Mr Sungjin said the shift in talking about sexuality was starting to change in Korea, meaning the museum and theme park has become an Instagrammer’s dream.
Mr Songhyn said the park in particular evolved after dark, with more tourists visiting the adults-only theme park after the sun goes down.
“Some complain the theme park is too pornographic,” he said.
“There are still various viewpoints on the sex theme park among Koreans.” Mr Sungjin said the goal of the island — and the sex-themed parks and museums within — was to “create a space where people can share their thoughts about sex and express their sexuality through art exhibits and artefacts”.