Trees in Korea
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© John Holstein
For more on some of these trees and other trees in Korea, read The Multicentenarians.
Seongnakweon. Seongbukdong, Seongbukgu, Seoul.
There are a few trees in Korea that have stubbornly refused to yield to development of transportation. Of course, each has a legend or special spirit. This one is just a kilometer east of Andong's railway station, by Imcheonggak Gunjajeong and the 7-story pagoda, along the Nakdong River. (circa 2000)
The tree by by Imcheonggak Gunjajeong. This photo better shows the remnants of a shaman rite in honor of the tree's spirit. That white bottle is a plastic bottle of makkoli (the traditional Korean rice brew), which is now sold in grocery stores. Tragically, the tree was cut down by a vandal in 2009.
The garbage recycling shed at Sanjang Apartments, in Jeongneung-dong, Seoul.
Almost all garden trees in Korea are protected like this in the winter. When the weather warms, the straw coat is taken off and burned, to kill the insects that have gathered there. To see more photos, click here.
At the entrance to Jeondeung Temple, Kanghwa Island. (circa 2001)
Another road divider, near Cheonjeon-ri, on Route 35, north of Andong (North Gyeongsang Province). (2006)
In Pyeongchangdong, Chongno-ku, Seoul.
Gahwaedong, Seoul.
In front of Changgyeong Palace, Seoul. (2005)
In Myeongryundang, at the entrance to Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul. (1985)
This is a spirit tree of venerable age, in Hahwoe, outside Andong city, North Gyeongsang Province. The people in this photo all became multi-millionaires after this photo was taken and each had over 12 children. (circa 1987)
Look close at this lilac and you'll see the whole in the wall. In Donam-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul. (1999)
Every village has its spirit tree, which yields both protection (when it's put in the proper mood with proper annual or semi-annual rites) and a restful place to socialize. This one watches over Seomi-dong, Pungsan-eup, North Gyeongsang Province. (2006)
The "village" tree is just as important in the city. Korea industrialized a scant two decades ago. This tree is Jeongneung-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul. (2005)
Ginkgo. Jeongneung-dong, Seoungbuk-gu, Seoul. (2004)
A notch was cut in the wall to avoid cutting off this ancient zelkova's branch, at Bongweon Temple, Seoul. (2006)
Winter shadows at Jeongneung, grounds of the tomb of Queen Shin-deok (consort of Taejo, founder of the Chosun dynasty). (1986)
This huge old tree was moved from a place that was scheduled to become a reservoir. Its current home is Yong-gye-ri, in North Kyoungsang Province. For more on old trees in Korea, read The Multicentenarians. (circa 2003)
Scraggly though it is, this seems to be the official city tree. Gangjin, South Cholla Province. (2006)
This beauty has no official status, but it serves its purpose of inviting locals to gather. Hwacheon-ri, Namhae, South Gyeongsang Province. (2006)
"The Second Minister" (near Beopju Temple and Songni Mountain in North Chungcheong Province) must be the world's only tree to hold a government position. King Sejong (1455-1468) made the appointment. (2006)
A couple other pines in Korea are said to be the "wife" of the Second Minister, but this pine, about 10 miles away in Seoweon-ri, is the official one. The text posted in front of it "explains" that she's the wife because the trunk at its base splits into a V, while the Second Minister has a single trunk. (2006)
It's supper time now and the villagers that we saw gathered here earlier, on our way to Baeknyeon Temple, have all gone home to eat. Maehwa-ri, South Cholla Province. (2006)
A venerated roadside tree in Jeong-ri, Namhae, South Gyeongsang Province. (2006)
The text posted in front of this burned out tree says, "The tallest Chionanthus retusa [Chinese White Fringe] is the guardian tree and the ritual ceremony is held on the fifteenth day of the tenth month in the lunar calendar in front of this tree to pray for the peace of the village." Apparently the sign was posted before the tree burned. Mulgeon-ri, Namhae, South Gyeongsang Province. (2006)
The age of this pine at Nogu-ri, in Namhae, South Gyeongsang Province, is only about 200 years, so that one wonders what it did to rate official Province recognition in the form of registration as a natural treasure, and outfitting with a fence and benches. (2006)
Hyeri Art Gallery, Kyeonggi Province. (To whoever took this photo: Please accept my apology for not giving you credit. I don't know the source. If you write to me at, I'll give you credit here. Thanks for your understanding.)
We were fortunate to come upon this elegant pair of pines at Songchon-ri (South Cholla Province) while there was still some light. (2006)
Yongso-ri, in Namhae, boasts this imposing Chinese Hackberry that looks much older than the 200 years that the posting says it is. (2006)
The huge 300-year-old ginkgo on the right is a provincial natural treasure, probably planted when Gangjin Hyanggyo (a combination school and shrine that provided elementary studies in the Confucian classics) was founded. (Gangjin, South Cholla Province.) (2006)