Where in Jeju will I end up today?


Jeju Ambience from Francois Saikaly on Vimeo.

July 2012,

I was in a cab with my friends heading towards the Jeju Island airport. I’m scanning the Internet on my phone and I’m looking at the handy Jeju Island map on the kerchief that I had bought. Once the cab got to the airport and my friends head off, I was going to start my filming adventure. All I had to do was choose a place to explore. I realized that tourist info can be very convenient at times, but it can also lead to seeing the wrong places and can cause a loss of valuable time. I found this piece of land sitting on the north-east corner of the island on my kerchief. My gut feeling told me that this was a good place, and the cab driver told me that it was a good idea, so I decided to go there. The place was called Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. It’s also known as “Sunrise Peak”. It’s a volcano that rose from the sea in a series of eruptions that started over 100,000 years ago. It was originally a volcanic island but was later connected to the mainland.

I got to the airport with my friends, said good-bye to them, and made my way to the information desk to get some directions. It was an hour and a half bus ride to get there and I was quite thankful for it. It was really awesome to see what people’s daily lives looked like on the way. I could see all kinds of small villages and amazing views from the bus. I realized that I want to drive a scooter around Jeju and experience it that way. As we were driving along, I knew I was close to my stop but I wasn’t exactly sure as to where it was. I saw 3 foreigners get off the bus so I figured, “Great, this must be the place.” I was wrong. I’m so happy I got off there, because on my way to the mountain I was able to see some locals searching the ocean waters for seafood. They swam at the top of the water then would go down for their catch. I always enjoy seeing natural sights like these while travelling. I figured that there was probably a more intense version of this elsewhere, (like seeing Haenyo (sea women)) however, this had a certain calmness to it that gave it a very different feeling. It felt very “local”. Because the water was shallow, I was able to go down some stairs into the water, walk towards them until the water was up to my knees, and begin filming them. The frustration associated with my cheap but very light tripod began to kick in. It was so windy, and I had packed this cheap tripod to be more mobile. I think I would have chosen the inconvenience of a heavy tripod had I had a second chance to decide. However, it was time to forget about the shooting conditions and enjoy what I had come to do.

I finally made my way to Sunrise Peak and it was absolutely beautiful. I was so happy to see its beauty and I felt bad that my friends and I had not gone there together.

As most tourist places in peak season are in Korea, it was really busy, but it gave it a certain energy that I liked. Throughout the next couple of hours, I slowly climbed up the mountain’s stairs, taking the shots that I wanted. I was also trying to get informed as much as possible about the volcano’s history via the signs that were posted along the way. This way there could be a bit of added value to what I’m shooting.

As I climbed up, the view became more beautiful. There was a fierce wind that made filming very much a waiting time. I would have to wait for wind to calm down, and then take the shot that I needed. As the camera was rolling, I would begin to pray for the wind not to push my tripod around. Shooting is not always a walk in the park so you have to make the best of it and enjoy it. Regardless of the rough shooting conditions, it didn’t really seem to matter at the time. Everything around me was so great.

After taking all the shots that I needed while climbing up the mountain’s stairs, I finally arrived at the top, which was shaped like a large green bowl. It felt as though I was looking at a green, blue, and white painting. It was an absolutely stunning view.

I took some of my final shots of the day, allowed myself a long moment of taking it all in, and made my way down for my next adventure.

New Beginnings


Gwanghwamun - Seoul, South Korea

Gwanghwamun – Seoul, South Korea

January, 2012

I’ve left it all behind and have come to settle my life here in Seoul for a few years. It’s a really exciting time in my life and it’s a huge journey into the unknown. Having to reconstruct my career in another country, one I’ve always wanted to live in, is such an exciting feeling.

Sometimes in life you are given opportunities that you just cannot pass up on. Even if logic tells you that you are in a safe and comfortable place, you just need to go through with what your heart tells you. I pictured myself here 2 years ago but had never imagined that it would materialize. Now begins my journey of adventure, experience, and learning.

This blog has been created to share some of my adventures and experiences as I build my career as a cameraman / filmmaker here in Korea. I hope it helps in some way shape or form to inspire you to pursue the things that you want in life or that it simply entertains you. This blog may at times contain some technical information on how some of the images were created as well as some discussion on production processes.

Thank you for visiting.