When I come across an abandoned building, I normally find myself encountering a building that has fallen into disrepair, but never looked like it was too great to start with. Paradise Resort on Jeju island gave me the very opposite feeling. As I walked around the still complete structure, I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Why did this happen? Why did they leave it all behind?’ The prices were still present on rooms and for a basic room, the cost was $370 a night. For the deluxe rooms, $800. This was a very fancy place equipped with pools, bars, saunas, and a spa amongst other things.
I had passed the resort a few times before while walking the Olle trail and that is where our adventure begun once more. A friend and I entered the resort from the side by walking around a wall, through some bushes, and straight into the basement, avoiding the security camera pointing down the road. As curious individuals who wanted to cause no harm, we simply came to have a look around, then leave.
Once in the basement, we found ourselves plunged into almost total darkness amidst a huge network of rooms. There were giant fridges, storage rooms, and all sorts of other spaces that we either didn’t know what they were or they creeped us out too much to go inside.
In many of the rooms, things had been left behind. This ranged from desks and pool tables through to computers. Not thinking ahead, we had only one phone between us (I don’t own a phone) with which to light up our surroundings. We could see almost nothing but shapes until our eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness.
Only by using the magic of the camera could we discover what was really inside some of the rooms. As you can see below, the basement rooms are filled with a grotesque collection of mould and debris that even our well-adjusted eyes could barely see.
Upon leaving the basement, we found light and were able to look at the more inhabitable parts of the ex-resort. Some rooms had black walls due to the overwhelming amount of mould. It was a welcome respite to leave the underground network after many minutes of exploring.
Inside the bar, we found that the furniture had been removed, but it still looked rather useable.
Whoever cleaned out the place, hadn’t even bothered to remove the menus. Right now though, the place is a long way away from serving $18 cocktails.
We then entered the main reception and dining area where there was a large open barbecue and all sorts of electronic equipment behind the receptionist’s desk.
The roof featured elaborate coloured glasswork, lighting up the interior of the building.
The resort even featured a large ballroom that looked curiously bare when devoid of people and music.
The most hostile feature of the whole place, was a statue of a chair. On one side of the chair was a single arm, on the other, a jacket hung. What freaked me out was the instrument of torture threateningly placed in the centre of the chair. When we tried to move the chair, we found it was near impossible to lift alone due to it’s incredible weight.. not that we were going to sit on it anyway.
Enthralled by our surroundings, I walked out in front of a camera in the centre of the resort before disappearing from view. Was anyone watching us anyway? Were the things even turned on?
We went back inside to investigate the expensive rooms. We found a glorious battle whereby nature was attempting to reclaim the land. I think the obscured view of the overgrown balcony is my favourite.
Inside the rooms, we found smoke masks for use in emergency. Every room had two of them, pretty much the only things left behind in the rooms.
Naturally the only way to go was up and we found our way onto the rooftop courtesy of an open door.
From the roof we could see the swimming pools beneath us.
We were unable to investigate the pools or spa area further because while we were taking a self-timer photo of ourselves with our newly found masks on, a security guard appeared and begun shouting at us from the ground.
In this situation, I find the simplest solution is to simply disappear. We disappeared inside, hastily made our way through the corridors, then descended into the basement. Here we navigated the network of tunnels at speed before coming out where we had entered. We crossed the road, slipped through the bushes and vanished entirely without leaving a trace of our presence. We came, we saw, we got shouted at, and disappeared without causing any damage.
Whatever happened to this mysterious resort that was once a luxury? It is one of the most fascinating abandoned places that I have ever visited, but it is luxury no more. It never will be again.