After a long and brutal winter, the weather is finally starting to warm up and show the signs of approaching spring. While chilling winds still blow across much of the country, balmier days and sunny weather ahead promise new buds and blooms.
Namsan is a 262-meter peak in central Seoul that offers some of the best views of the capital. The park is home to more than 60 species of plants and animals. It offers a variety of easy hiking courses up the mountain, most taking about two hours to reach N Seoul Tower at the top. Along the way, visitors can enjoy the many outdoor exercise areas, an aquarium and a fountain. For more information about Namsan Park, please visit http://parks.seoul.go.kr/eng/.
Seoul Forest opened in June 2005 as an eco-friendly park for families. It consists of several sections, including the Cultural Art Park, Ecological Forest, Nature Experiencing Study Field, Wetlands Ecological Field and Han River Waterside Park. The forest connects the Han River and Jungnang Stream, and is home to deer, elk, chipmunks, ducks and other wildlife. In a modern twist, the park also offers wireless internet access. For more information, please visit the official website at http://parks.seoul.go.kr/eng/common/park_info/introduce.jsp?park_id=seoulforest.
◆Asian plum flowers
The Asian plum blossom (although more closely related to the apricot family) is celebrated across Asia both for the beauty of its blossoms and its small green fruit. This year, despite the cancellation of associated festivals, there are plenty of opportunities to go view these early spring blooms. The most famous spot in Korea for plum blossom viewing is the Maehwa Village in South Jeolla Province, which boasts more than 430,000 plum trees. Haenam, also in South Jeolla Province, is also famous for its profuse blossoming trees.
Camellias bloom from late November until April, making this the perfect time to go view the elegant trees. Dongbaek Forest in South Jeolla Province has more than 1500 camellia trees, creating a magical landscape. Odong Island, near Yeosu in South Jeolla Province, is also famous for its camellias, with visitors arriving to see the bright pink flowers in the early spring. Goeje Island in South Gyeongsang Province is also famous for their many camellia trees. For more information, please visit the provincial website for South Gyeongsang at http://english.gsnd.net/ and the official site for South Jeolla Province at http://english.jeonnam.go.kr/.
The Korean dogwood is a small tree or bush that produces beautiful yellow flowers in the spring, followed by small red fruit in the fall. Sandong in South Jeolla Province in is one of the best places to catch these showy blooms, but their spectacular colors can be found all over the peninsula. For more information, please visit http://en.jeonbuk.go.kr/, http://english.gg.go.kr/v200909/main.jsp.
Jeju Island is famous for its fields of canola flowers. Located off the southern coast, Jeju Island is the first place in Korea to feel the warmth of spring. Starting in February and peaking in March, the small yellow canola flowers blanket Jeju’s fields in color, enhancing some of the islands most famous sites, like Sunrise Peak.
Jeju Island is among the 28 finalists for the New7Wonders of Nature campaign, run by the New7Wonders Foundation in Switzerland to raise environmental awareness. Voting is open to the public until November 10.
For more information about travelling in Korea, please visit http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/intro.html, or call +82-1330 for 24-hour assistance in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.