BACKGROUND: Recently, various effective and rapid acting treatment modality for depression have been massively developed. Thus, early detection and treatment of depression is vitally important to improve community mental health. Using BDI, primary practitioner can easily find depressive symptoms that can complicate other physical diseases. Finding and treating depression early can improve general prognosis of physical diseases. The purpose of this study was to find out the prevalence of depression and depressive symptoms and their correlates among residents in Jeju and to provide baseline data. METHODS: The study subjects were 1,086 residents consisting of 531 males and 555 females of 10-Li in rural Jeju island and the data was gathered from trained interviewer using BDI and questionnaire about sociodemographic factors and health behavior. Depression was defined as BDI total score over 23 in males and over 24 in females. Depressive symptom was defined as BDI STEN score over 7. RESULTS: The prevalence of depression in rural Jeju island was 5.8% in total, 4.9% among males, 6.5% among females. The prevalence of depressive symptoms was 16.7% in total, 14.9% among males, 18.4% among females. The risk factors of depressive symptoms were self-assessed living standard, education years, perceived health status, self-assessed level of stress, perceived social support, body image, breakfast intake, and sleep. Sex, marital status and drinking habit were not statistically significant risk factors. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of depression and depressive symptoms in rural Jeju island was very low, especially among females. With intensive mental health service for those who are in low socioeconomic class and low education level and those who have poor health behavior, early detection of depressive symptoms from community will be important to improve general health status.