Korea, Urban Walking
Comments 6

It’s Been a Long Time Coming (Scene from a Stroll #3)

plum blossom korea

I was all set to write an angry post, but it’s proving more time-consuming that I’d anticipated — I have a lot of anger in me right now.

Instead, how about some pretty flowers? These are on a shrub near my apartment, and when I saw them on my way to hell work a couple of days ago, I almost kneeled down in the street and broke into some worship:

plum blossom korea

Why the reverence? Because these cultivars of genus Prunus announce, quite literally as well as symbolically, that (tonight’s chill notwithstanding) Spring is here in southern Korea. And she sure took her sweet time getting here — it’s been the longest Winter of my life.

I’d like to give you a definite name, but in the interests of my journalistic integrity you’ll have to accept the genus until I get more information. They’re not cherry blossoms, since those are due to emerge next weekend on Jeju Island and this warmer southern strip. I can tell you that they’re delightfully fragrant and that the colour is very welcome indeed on the drab streets of urban Korea.

There’s also the translation issue. My research suggests that they’re Prunus mume, the Chinese plum or Japanese apricot (see what I mean?), which is usually translated as “Korean plum” in these parts and is, yes, a traditional symbol of Spring. To add to the confusion, there’s apparently more apricot than plum in them, genetically speaking.

Whatever. Winter has been vanquished at last. A colleague told me recently that “Korean winters and summers are very long but Spring and Autumn are very short,” so I’ll enjoy this sliver of climatic mildness while I can.

I used to love hanami — cherry blossom time — in Tokyo. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s observed here, where the issue of Japanese occupation (they planted a lot of cherries here; many were later destroyed when the colonists were sent packing) is perenially touchy at best. A fortnight or so from now should see me venturing to Jinhae for the country’s best display of cherry blossoms — just me and a couple of million of my closest friends.

Meantime, I aim to enjoy these beauties while I can. Stay tuned for a return of Disgruntled Goat next post!

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote


  1. Mmm… bokeh… Nice photo!

    How angry is the angry post going to be? Will there be profanity in abundance? Will you end up being placed in that Wicker Man device from a previous post and burned by angry Koreans?!

    • Arrrgghhhhh…I don’t know, Greg. It’s actually good I get to have a breather before posting a rant — I had one lovely class today and I thought, “Goat, you’re over-reacting.” Well, let’s see how tomorrow morning works out in the language farms…

  2. I could feel your anger evaporate the longer I read, Goat, though some of the tension was still there — but, when I clicked on the Sam Cooke, I was positively chilled out….

    Bugger the genus, all spring blossom is beautiful!

    Best, SW

    • I only have Otis Redding’s version, which is great too, but that original, yes… I spent an absorbing evening with my camera on the river bank last night. There are rows of that plum tree in flower along both sides, and in the dark, the melt-water gushing, even the Dirty River took on a certain beauty, washing all my worries and woes down towards the ocean…

    • Nope, just talking about what I see. And sadly, the days of Spring flower blog mania have, it seems, faded like last month’s magnolias.

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