201-4 Gimnyeong-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do.
Greg Middleton (2004):
Jeju Island Lava Caves - World Heritage?, South Korea 2003.
Journal of the Sydney Speleological Society 2004 Vol 48 (6) 185-199
|Gimnyeongsagul, 201-4 Gimnyeong-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, Tel: +82-64-783-5412.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|the snake of the cave killed by judge Lin Seo.
|cave explored by a teacher from Gimnyeong Elementary School with his pupils, cave named after this school.
|designated Natural Monument No. 98.
|inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
|designated world geopark by the UNESCO.
김녕사굴 (Gimnyeongsagul, Gimnyeong Cave) is a semi-developed lava tube, there is a stone staircase from the surface down the entrance. Inside people walk on the cave floor and there is no light, but the cave is level and spacious, so it is quite easy to visit. It was once developed and had trails and electric light, but it has been closed now for several years and there are no plans to reopen it. The cave is listed on the web under half a dozen similar names, which causes some confusion. The problem are different transkriptions of the Korean name. We found, beneath the already mentioned, Kimnyongsa Gul, Gimnyeongsa Gul, Gimnyeongsagul Cave, and Gimnyeongsa Cave.
Sagul means snake, and it is said that the cave was named Snake Cave because the inside meanders like a snake. In this metaphor the entrance is the head of the snake which swallows the visitors in whole. And like a snake it becomes smaller and smaller the further you go in. We are not sure if this makes sense, as sagul actually means cave, and the name of this cave is actually Gimnyeong sagul. But there is another legend which is snake related and explains the name better. At the entrance of the cave is a monument honoring Seoryeon about whom the following tale is told.
Once there were dozens of big snakes living in Gimnyeong Cave. They were able to create wind and rain at will, causing enormous damage to the residents. The villagers began to offer a 15-year-old girl as a sacrifice and hold a rite every year to prevent disaster. This became a big annual event. Seoryeon was the grandson of the fifth generation of Yeonsan-seo, a manor-level ruler of Mugwu. In 1513, he passed the civil service examination at the age of 19 and was then sent to Jeju as a judge. When he heard about the sacrifice, he went there with his merchants. They killed the snakes, saved the virgin, and further on the village was able to live in peace. But the story is not over yet, on the way back to his residence in Gwansa, a streak of red energy hit him on the back, and he fell ill. He passed away on 10-APR-1515 at Gwansa. His remains were escorted by the people of Jeju Island and buried in his hometown at Bogae Mountain in Deok-eun-dong, Jijeong-ri, Gwhyang-myeon, Heungseong-gun, Chungcheongnam-do.
The cave is signposted from the road and there is a trail leading to the cave entrance. As far as we know it is not closed by a gate, still it is not open to the public. From the entrance there is an upstream and downstream part. The upstream part is the former show cave and easy to visit. The downstream part is bi-level and the lower end is filled with sediments, carbonate sediments which were washed in from the beach. On the surface the cave is covered by sand dunes. The limestone from the sand was dissolved by rain water and formed stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave, which is the reason why calcite flowstone is found inside a lava tube.
The cave is a part of a lava flow from a 400 m high volcano named Geomun Oreum to the northern coast. Inside this flow is a long lava tube, which was separated into two parts by a collapse, or depending on the source, by subsequent lava flows. The first part is the show cave Manjanggul, and this is the second part further down the slope. There are also sources which talk about a third part, which is closer to the volcano, and not open to the public.
The S-shaped tube was explored by a teacher from Gimnyeong Elementary School with his pupils in 1946 and 1947. They surveyed the 700 m long, 25 m high and 18 m wide passage. And while the cave was long known as Snake Cave it was named Gimnyeong Cave after this elementary school. The teacher also discovered 빌레못동굴 (Villemot Cave or Philemon Cave) in Ernyeong-ri, Jeju, in 1969 and explored it for 740 m.
This is a former show cave very near Manjanggul cave and undoubtedly part of the same original lava tube system but no longer physically connected to Manjanggul. Basic pathways, including stairs, are still in place, as are the remnants of the electric lighting system. The passages resemble Manjang in that they are large and display various flow features. There are many cracks in the ceiling which admit water during wet weather. Silt and sand is in evidence but the only calcite formations are some superficial flowstone. The cave is sufficiently impressive to be used as a show cave again or perhaps as an Adventure experience if visitors brought their own lighting.
Text by Tony Oldham (2004). With kind permission.