Jeju Island is an exceptional place. It lies southwest of the Korean Peninsula and is about an hour’s flight from Seoul. The whole island has been designated as a special tourist zone. Over 8.7 million visitors come to enjoy the outstanding scenery and beauty of the island. The island has a unique eco-system thanks to its sub-tropical and sub-arctic climates boasting flora, fauna, and animal species not found anywhere else.

Guardians rising from the volcanic landscape

Mount Hallasan dominates the landscape of Jeju and covers around half the island. Its volcanic soil is the reason Jeju Island is so unique, beautiful and special for the Korean people. Rising out of the volcanic rock and soil stand the guardians of the island – the Dol Hareubang. Carved from basalt, Dol Hareubang statues can tower up to  three metres high. They wear a mushroom-like hat and are always grinning with big bulging eyes. Their hands rest on their bellies like they are enjoying a private joke, with one hand slightly higher than the other. Their name is made from the Korean word for stone, dol, and the Jeju dialect word for grandfather or senior, hareubang.

You can usually find a pair of Dol Hareubang at the entrance to towns and villages on Jeju Island, guarding the inhabitants against demons, disasters, and misfortune. If the right hand is slightly higher than the other, the Dol Hareubang represents a civil official, a brush held tightly in its elevated hand. Its counterpart is a military official with a raised left hand to symbolise holding a bow and spear. No one really knows the origins of the statues; some say they were introduced to the island by foreign seamen, others that they were made as a counterpart to the totem poles, jangseungs, found on the Korean peninsula, while others believe that they are part of shamanic mushroom culture (as their hats look like mushrooms).

A special connection to MANN+HUMMEL Korea

No matter what their origins was, the Dol Hareubang are a well-known all over Korea. For this reason, we have decided to send one to Germany as Korea’s contribution to MANN+HUMMEL’s 75th Anniversary celebrations. Our company is commemorating this special occasion by collecting essentials from its locations all over the world. Each object represents the culture and value of the country it comes from and we think the Dol Hareubang, representing protection, family and tradition, is an excellent reflection of Korea. The Dol Hareubang will form part of an exhibition this year at MANN+HUMMEL’s Technology Centre in Ludwigsburg. It will then be sealed in a time capsule for future generations to discover.

As a popular tourist destination, many MANN+HUMMEL Korea staffs have fond memories of Jeju Island and the Dol Hareubang. Recently, one of my colleagues in the administrative department went on a trip with her family to the island. They had a wonderful time and were able to meet the Dol Hareubang up-close, as you can see from these pictures. We hope you have the same opportunity at the exhibition.