Cherry Blossom (sakura) season is a huge event in Japan drawing millions of visitors and with many festivals, with centuries old traditions like Hanami.

South Korea being at relatively close latitude (and I'm assuming climate) than a lot of Japan I'm wondering if the cherry has a similar significance in Korea as it does across the Sea of Japan, and if it's celebrated given the history between Japan and Korea.

Wikipedia has a rather short section on the topic, no mention of it on Wikivoyage, is this an important event on the Korean calendar ?

  • 2
    Somewhat related - there are whole streets of Cherry trees in the UK - they're quite spectacular when in bloom. There's no particular cultural event or singnificance to it though. Of course, there is the shared history angle with SK/JP
    – CMaster
    Apr 4, 2016 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


Blossom viewing is common to all East Asian cultures, and the cherry blossom is the most prominent spring blossom in Korea. I would not say it is central to the culture the way it is in Japan, however.

As with everything in East Asia, it is not untouched by complicated history. Some of the more famous stands, such as at Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul, were planted during the era of Korea's occupation by Imperial Japan. Both China and Korea claim to be the origin of Japan's cherry trees. But I don't want to overstate things. No one wants to talk politics when they're out enjoying the blooms. Indeed, sakura, used as a loanword (사쿠라), is the most common way to refer to the flower (the native Korean word is beot-kkot, 벚꽃), and the activity of blossom viewing, similarly, uses the loanword hanami (하나미), natively kkot-gugyeong (꽃구경).

The biggest cherry blossom festival is the Gunhangje Festival, which runs for ten days in the early spring in the Jinhae district of Changwon, a seaport and the capital of South Gyeongsam Province (Gyeongsamnam-do). Jinhae is planted with hundreds of thousands of cherry trees, and during the festival there are parades, performances, and other cultural events, such as commemorations of national hero Admiral Yi Sun-Shin (Jinhae is home of the naval academy and a major naval base; gunhang means naval port). The Korea Tourism Organization has a listing of the most famous cherry blossom sites in Jinhae, notably the "cherry blossom tunnel" along Yeojwacheon Stream.

On the other side of the province is the Simni Cherry Blossom Road, a 6km walk in Hadong leading to Ssanggyesa Temple lined with cherry trees. The path is nicknamed Hollae-gil (wedding path) because of a legend that couples who walk the path together holding hands will be together for one hundred years.

The Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival in Seogwipo also runs in the early spring, with ceremonies, concerts, street festivals, and other cultural events. As this is the southernmost populated part of Korea, it is the first part of the country to see cherry blossoms.

If you cannot make it out to the provinces, there are plenty of cherry blossoms all around Seoul. The most famous viewing spots are Yeouido Park, along the Namsan Circular Road, at the main entrance to Kyunghee University, and at the aforementioned Changgyeonggung Palace.

But there are other blossom festivals in various parts of Korea, notably the plum blossoms (Gwangyang International Maehwa Festival), Japanese dogwood/cornus (Gurye Sansuyu Festival and Icheon Baeksa Sansuyu Festival), canola (Jeju Canola Flower Festival), and azaleas (Yeongchwisan Azalea Festival) among others.


The significance is not very different, although the Japanese do tend to go utterly crazy for it. The Koreans appreciate the full beauty of it and place some romantic meaning in it, yes, while the Japanese tend to place cherry blossoms in souls-linkage-forever metaphysics level (higher than Koreans) but Koreans have their own festivals of Cherry Blossoms, and it is believed that if a couple walks down a road of cherry blossoms holding hands, they will grow old together in an everlasting relationship. So not really far away; just trimmed down to non-extreme level.

Do note this rule-of-thumb: if Japan makes a fuss about something, no one does it quite as high, loud or literally as creepy. Japan is the country of the extreme. :) Period.

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