The Korea Herald


Jeju to erect statues of its two symbols in Paraguayan capital

By KH디지털2

Published : April 25, 2016 - 13:22

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The Jeju provincial government said Monday it will erect two stone statues symbolic of South Korea's resort island of Jeju this week in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion as part of its efforts to promote the island and friendly ties with the Latin American country.

Delegations from the island and Paraguay are to unveil the two-- a "dolharubang," a statue carved from hole-ridden basalt ubiquitous on the country's largest island, and a statue of "haenyeo," or woman divers -- during a ceremony at a park in the Costanera riverside area of Asuncion on Tuesday. The two statues are both 180 centimeters tall each.

Yang Ki-chul, director of the international trade bureau at the Jeju regional government, and South Korean Ambassador to Paraguay Hahn Myung-jae will represent the South Korean side at the ceremony, while the Paraguayan side will be led by Asuncion Mayor Mario Ferreiro.

Dolharubang, which means "grandfather made of stone," has round and bulging eyes, a firmly closed mouth, and a soldier's hat on its head, and stands in a stooped posture with its shoulders raised high and hands gathered at its stomach. 

Many of these dolharubang statues are believed to have played the role of guardians in front of fortress gates on the island in the Joseon Dynasty. Scholars believe the statue originated from Mongolia, but the recent discovery of a stone statue that looks just like a dolharubang and dates back to the Liao Dynasty period at a museum in the city of Chaoyang in northeast China leads some to challenge the Mongolian origin theory.

The woman diver statue representing the island's haenyeo fishing industry wears a diving suit and a pair of goggles and carries "taewak," a hollowed-out gourd that serves, among many other things, as a flotation device and buoy.

The delivery of the dolharubang and haenyeo statues to Paraguay comes three years after Yang Won-chan, a former leader of an association of Jeju residents living abroad, agreed with former Paraguayan President Federico Franco in August 2013 to have the statues erected in Asuncion.

In January 1999, a dolharubang statue was set up in the Chinese city of Guilin as part of the city of Jeju's activities to promote friendly relations with Guilin with which it had formed a friendly relationship, the first officially known case of the statue being erected by the local government on foreign soil. Ten dolharubang statues have been erected in China.

Jeju has set up 10 dolharubang statues in Japan, six in the United States and three in Germany. The installation of the statue in Paraguay brings the number of dolharubang statues in other countries to 30, all sent by the Jeju regional government. (Yonhap)