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Where did Jeju Island’s tangerines come from?
Where did Jeju Island’s tangerines come from?
  • By Visit Jeju
  • 승인 2023.03.09 20:55
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On Jeju Island, tangerines and Mandarin oranges (called mangam in Korean) emerge each month in slightly different flavors and shapes. The best native varieties are selected and then crossbred with one another to create a higher-quality strain—this never-ending cycle of crossbreeding and improvement produces dozens of types of tangerines. Tangerines are believed to have arrived in Jeju Island during the Three Kingdoms Period. Indeed, the tangerines that we enjoy today may very well be the result of many different flavors and textures that have been cultivated and crossbred for centuries. Jeju tangerines are the embodiment of the island's centuries of history as well as its unlimited potential.

Doryeon-dong tangerine trees

Doryeon-dong is home to six native tangerine trees that were designated Natural Monuments on January 13, 2011. This cluster of native trees stately stands in the center of the village above the fields of younger, improved tangerine trees. The trees represent four different tangerine varieties: Dangyuja (Citrus grandis), Byeonggyul (Citrus platymamma), Sangyul (C. recticulata), and Jingyul (C. medica recticulata). The first and second are grouped in pairs, with one each of the third and fourth types. The trees are between 4.5 and 7 meters in height, 100–190 centimeters in diameter at the base, and is an average of 250 years old.

Due to Jeju Island's mild winter climate, tangerines are believed to have been grown on the island as far back as the Three Kingdoms Period. According to ancient Japanese records—Higo Kunishi (History of Higo), Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan)—there were over 14 species of native tangerine trees on Jeju Island. Several were brought to Japan and improved, and in fact, most of the Mandarin oranges currently on the market are descendants of these improved varieties.


Given the rarity of Jeju native tangerines, the six trees in Doryeon-dong are invaluable historical and biological resources that show us what the original Jeju tangerines were like.


Dangyuja, which is locally known as dengyuji or daeyuji, was traditionally used for eating, as a medicinal ingredient, and for rituals held for the gods. This type of tangerine is the largest of all native Jeju tangerines, with each fruit weighing approximately 250 grams. Sangyul is characterized by small bumps covering the outside of the tangerine, and each fruit weighs 20–30 grams. Byeonggyul, also called benjul, is easy to distinguish from the other three varieties because of its protruding top, which gives it a gourd-like appearance. Jingyul, known for its sour, crunchy flesh, was often sent as tribute to the royal palace.

• Source: Digital Encyclopedia of Jeju Culture (
• Address: 21, Doryeon 6-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do (among others)

Myeonhyeong's House

Tangerines began being cultivated en masse in Seogwipo, starting with the Onju Gamgyul (Satsuma mandarin) and soon spread across the island. The Onju Gamgyul tree, Jeju Island's first improved variety, was given as a gift to Father Emile Joseph Taquet (Korean name: Eom Taek-gi, period in Korea: April, 20, 1902–June 7, 1915), the third provost of the Seogwipo Catholic Church, as thanks for the native Jeju cherry tree he sent in 1911 to Urbain Faurie, a French priest based in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Of the 14 trees gifted to the provost, only one survived, which was planted in front of Myeonhyeong's House.

Starting in 2004, the tree's roots began to weaken, and its bark began to rot. A series of scorching summers quickly dried out its leaves and fruit. The residents of Seohong-dong did whatever they could to protect the tree and tried to save it by applying a special protective ointment, creating shade for the tree, and wrapping it in jute sheets. Despite all of these efforts, the tree eventually stopped growing shoots and eventually died in April 2019.

A 60 year-old “junior” tangerine tree now stands in its place, and the original Onju Gamgyul tree is memorialized by an irregularly-shaped sculpture installed inside of the church. Wood from the Onju Gamgyul tree, which has been treated with preservatives, is currently on display at Myeonhyeong's House.

• Address: 19, Jijangsaem-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
• Inquiries: 82-64-762-6009

Seogwipo Citrus Museum

The Seogwipo Citrus Museum features all kind of exhibits and videos on Jeju tangerines, including those on tangerine history, species/varieties, and cultivation methods, making it the best place for visitors to learn more about Jeju tangerines, which have been regarded as one of the island's specialties products for many years. Outside the museum stands Jeju Island's oldest hagyul tree. Hagyul is a type of summer tangerine that is very sour and has large vesicles, making it ideal for use as an ingredient for syrup. The tree, which was donated in 2017, was grown from seeds provided by Kim Hong-jip, one of the leaders of the Gabo Reforms of 1894. Mentioned in several historical records, the tree has great historical value.

The museum is made up of a permanent exhibition hall, the World Citrus Exhibition Hall, Citrus Harvesting Experience area, Tropical Botanic Garden, and a special exhibition gallery, each of which offers a rich array of contents on tangerine history, varieties, and functions/ merits. At the exhibits inside the museum, visitors can see tangerine trees from all over the world as well as 12 varieties of native Jeju tangerines and various tropical fruit trees, such as papaya, banana, and mango trees.

Visitors can also venture up the slightly-sloped Wollabong Oreum located behind the museum. The Citrus Harvesting Experience area offers a tangerine-picking experience and footbaths with water sprinkled with crushed tangerine peels. The tangerine footbath, with its fresh citrusy fragrance, is a wonderful way to unwind, especially in the colder winter months.

• Address: 441, Hyodonsunhwan-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
• Inquiries: 82-64-767-3010

Choenamdan Tangerine Farm

Choenamdan Tangerine Farm is known for its multiple varieties of Mandarin oranges that reach their peaks at different times of the year. The best part of the farm is the monorail, which is surprisingly large and takes visitors on a fun, zig-zagging tour of the farm.

With stops along the way to feed the pigs and hear interesting stories about the fields from the farm guide, the monorail is more than just a quick way to get from one place to another. Since the farm grows so many varieties of Mandarin oranges, the farm is busy harvesting them year-round. The busiest part of the harvesting season starts in October, with Geukjosaeng tangerines, followed in quick succession by Hallabong, Cheonggyeon, Jinjihyang tangerines, eco-friendly Noji tangerines, and many others. In the summer, the farm mainly harvests greenhouse-grown tangerines, which have a light orange peel (due to being ripened slowly by the plastic-filtered sun) and firm flesh. The farm also grows blueberries, which are harvested from June through August.

Since the farm is so large, most visitors keep a map on hand so that they can easily access the different activities offered at each location throughout the farm. The Mandarin orange fields are complemented by a zone for experiencing tangerine-based products, the Butterfly Park, an insect experience area and exhibition zone, a mini-petting zoo, and a section of black pigs. With all the activities available, the farm has something for everyone.

• Address: 164, Namwinamseong-ro, Namwon-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
• Inquiries: 82-64-764-7759
• Website:

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