When you experience Jeju from the sea, as i did, it soon becomes apparent that there is very little of Jeju's "natural" environment left. Evidence of habitat destruction is everywhere. It was very rare to not see a road, a building or a harbour all along the coast.
Pyeoson Beach is representative of the kind of habitat destruction i'm talking about. It is often referred to as "tourism development". If you go there you can see that this area was once an estuary surrounded by sand dunes. Sand dune estuarine areas are home to particularly rich and diverse eco-systems. It has been completely annihilated. The creeks and streams have been built over and are now drains whilst the sand dunes have been flattened to make roads, carparks and picnic areas. All the plants and animals that made up that eco-system are no more.
Probably the most upsetting thing i saw during the whole swim was the way hundreds and hundreds of people picnicking on the grass at Pyeoson made no effort to take their rubbish with them when they left. To get to the beach to swim i had to walk, literally ankle deep, through the previous night's litter - pizza boxes, take away food containers, plastic bags, plastic bottles, broken glass, ramyeon bowls, drink cans, empty cigarette packets, ice cream wrappers, and so on.
It is this mindset and behaviour that The Jeju Big Swim hopes to change.