After a long cold Korean winter, March and April mark the start of a change in the Korean landscape with the blooming of the spring flowers. Flowers like azaleas and forsythias are the first to show in the southern parts of the country with these spreading north towards Seoul.
The estimated blooming dates for 2014 are very similar to last year with forsythias on Jeju Island expected to bloom on March 14th, in Busan on March 15th, Seoul on the 25th and finally in Chuncheon as late as April 1st. The forsythia flower is easy to spot with its splashes of bright yellow sunny bloom and colors can range from butter yellow to gold.
Azaleas have flowers that can be white, yellow, orange, pink or red and can be seen throughout the country and are often used to make displays. For the azaleas we can see them bloom on March 15th in Jeju, March 17th in Busan, March 29th in Jeonju, and March 26th in Seoul.
On top of these common flowers we can see a range of other flowers during this early part of spring when the air temperature is still relatively cool. With a trip to Jeju Island one can see the bright yellow rapeseed and canola flowers that fill the hill slopes and can be found sprawling up the iconic slopes of Halla Mountain. Jinhae, Gunsan, and Yeouido are some of many places where we can see the one of the five types of cherry blossom trees in Korea, and they blossom with white or pink flowers in March and April starting from the warmer southern region. On top of these we also have sansuyu or dogwood trees that turn vibrant yellow with early spring blossoms and a striking red with berries in autumn.
Once spring is in full swing in Korea, yellow forsythias, pink azaleas, cornelian cherries, peonies, and cherry blossoms in full bloom will be blanketing every corner of Korea. From the college campus of Kyunghee University in Seoul with its cherry blossom lined streets to the rape flowers of Cheongsando Island, one will not be able to escape this beautiful changing landscape.
- by Matthew Fennell, Asia Society Korea Center's Contributing Writer and Assistant Professor of Integrated General Education at Hanyang University.