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May 13

Spring in South Korea

I’m in Yellowknife for the week and today was a beautiful spring day – warm and sunny with blue skies.  Although spring in the north is wonderful, it lacks an essential ingredient of spring: flowers.

Growing up in Ontario, the true sign of spring for me was the return of trilliums in the forests of my family’s cottage.  Flowers are synonymous with spring.  Simply hearing the word spring conjures images of daffodils and tulips.

In South Korea, cherry blossoms are the flowers celebrated in spring.

Blossoms near our home in Uijeongbu

Living in Seoul, we joined masses of Koreans to attend the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival.  It truly is a sight to behold thousands of trees, each blooming with hundreds of delicate pink flowers.  It’s even more breathtaking to see this marvel of nature in a park smack-dab in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, creating for a few weeks a little oasis in a sea of sky-scrapers.  Even the perpetually smoggy grey sky seemed to become a little more blue with the contrast of the pink blossoms.

In Korea, we quickly learned that enjoying natural beauty is not a private experience as it often is for us in Canada.  The cherry blossoms attract throngs of people, a sight almost as interesting as the blossoms themselves.

Cherry blossoms in Yeouido Park

In Korea whenever people amass anywhere, there are always enterprising individuals prepared to make money off the crowds, from selling food off a truck in the middle of traffic jams to hiking up mountains with a cooler full of popsicles for exerted hikers.  This festival was no different, with several vendors claiming the ground near the most beautiful trees to sell photos of the visitors with the backdrop of the blossoms.

Supply and demand.

Despite the relatively flower-less spring up here, the sight of the first mosquito of the year today is a sure sign that summer is on its way soon.  And my current hometown, the self-proclaimed “garden capital of the north”, will surely live up to its name soon.

2 comments

  1. Cindy Iam

    When we went to visit you, Carolyn, in South Korea, we never had the chance to see the blossoms which you described in your blog. Thank you for the photographic journal of how beautiful they are. We surely missed out but the photographs are a nice second option. I would imagine the smell is outstanding. Were they a draw to flies, bees, and butterflies?

    1. Carolyn
      Twitter: anorthernnomad

      It did smell great! There were some bugs, but not nearly as many as in Canada, and especially not as many as up here in the north! We saw our first mosquitoes this week, but luckily they’re not biting yet!

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