While some Koreans were out voting for the National Assemblies election, Matt, Dave and I decided to visited the beautiful little city of Jinhae. It was a bit past peak season, but Jinhae is the place to go if you want to fall in love with cherry blossom trees, or bott kkott namu (벚꽃 나무) they are called. Watching of cherry blossom was introduced to Korea during Japanese rule. While Japan has been known to present countries with cherry blossom trees as gifts, it was also used as a means to claim occupied territory (source).
Jinhae (진해구), located a 2 hour’s drive from Daegu, in a bay on Korea’s south coast. It’s a small city, of roughly around 170,000 people. The Japanese planted many cherry trees to beautify the city following their occupation of Korea as they simultaneously transformed Jinhae into a naval port. The port is still a famous spot in Jinhae, and hosts the Jinhae Gunhangjae (군항제), or Naval Port Festival. The festival has been commemorating Admiral Yi Sun-si (이순신) since 1952, a navy admiral who fought against the Japanese back in the 1500’s.
Yeojwa Stream (여좌천) was by far my favorite spot! It is a popular couple’s place (::snort:: what isn’t in Korea?). It is also called “Romance Bridge”, which has been used as a shooting location for “Romance,” a drama starring Kim Ha-nul and Kim Jae-won.
Yeojwa Stream was number #17 in CNN’s 50 Beautiful places to Visit in Korea. It’s just beautiful, for a long stretch, a small stream is surrounded on both sides by cherry blossom trees. It encases the stream, and you feel like it’s snowing petals. So so romantic. At night, they apparently turn lights on and the blossoms glow agains the dark sky. Maybe next year, I’ll have to stop by and check it out ^_^
Jinhae Tower is built on top of the small mountain called Je-Hwang Mountain (90m elevation) near the city center of Jinhae. There are 365 steps, called “year stairway”. We were brave enough to walk to the top. And it was sooooo worth it! We stopped at one point to sit and breathe in the pine trees and look at the cherry blossoms. Perfection!