Jeju Province (officially the Jeju Special Self-governing Province is one of the nine provinces of South Korea. The province is situated on and coterminous with the nation's largest island, formerly transliterated as Cheju or known as Quelpart to Europeans. Jeju Province lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of South Jeolla Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946. Its capital is Jeju City.
The island contains the natural World Heritage Site Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes.
Dol hareubang.Because of the relative isolation of the island, the people of Jeju have developed a culture and language that are distinct from those of mainland Korea. Jeju is home to thousands of local legends. Perhaps the most distinct cultural artifact is the ubiquitous dol hareubang ("stone grandfather") carved from a block of basalt.
Another distinct aspect of Jeju is the matriarchal family structure, found especially in Udo and Mara, but also present in the rest of the province. The best-known example of this is found among the haenyeo ("sea women"), who were often the heads of families, because they controlled the income. They earned their living from free diving, often all year round in quite cold water, without scuba gear, in order to harvest abalones, conchs, and a myriad of other marine products. It is thought that women are better at spending all day deep-water diving because they resist cold better. However, because of rapid economic development and modernization, few haenyeo are still actively working today.