Just like Koreans have 단풍놀이 (dan-poong nor-i) or going on an excursion to see and take pictures with the colorful autumn leaves in the fall, they also have 꽃놀이 (kkot nor-i or flower play) in the spring. As the flowers begin to bloom, couples, friends, and families venture out to the best spots to see the flowers and take photos. Certain areas are even specially designated for this activity, like 하중도 (Hajungdo) in Daegu which is a tiny little island in the middle of a river with a huge field of canola flowers in spring and cosmos flowers in the fall. There’s not much else on the island, so people come solely to see the flowers and of course, take countless photos.
The first flowers to bloom were the cherry blossoms, which seem to be the favorite of many. They bloomed all across KNU, and when the wind blew the petals off the branches, it looked as if white-pink snow was covering the campus. I even traveled to a city called 진해 (Jinhae) an hour or so away to go to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival where there were events, performances, activities, and fair food, but most importantly, plenty of good spots to take pictures with the flowers. The city was full of people who came for flower play, so sometimes it was impossible to take photos without other people in the background. Many people bring huge, professional cameras to take the best photos they can. This spring was the first time that I saw cherry blossoms in person, and I took many pictures with friends under the cherry blossom trees to capture this beautiful memory.
After the cherry blossoms came and went, the azaleas and the king cherry blossoms bloomed. The azaleas also bloomed as red and purple blossoms across the campus, and there was an azalea festival on a mountain near Daegu called 비슬산 (Biseulsan) that I was unfortunately unable to attend. To see the king cherry blossoms with lovely pink layered petals, I had to travel to a small park far from campus. Although it was a bit far and the park was smaller than I thought, it was worth it to see the beautiful flowers and to take pictures with my friends.
Observing and participating in danpoong play and flower play has given me the impression that Koreans appreciate the beauty of nature around them. Of course in the U.S. there are people who love flowers and we have many impressive national parks, but often people are not willing to travel far to see them. Our appreciation for nature does not manifest itself as activities with special names in which nearly the entire nation takes part. I admire Koreans’ love for nature and the beauty it offers.