Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Chungcheong,Festivals & Holidays,Nature, 7 Comments
One of Korea’s most beautiful spots is Anmyeondo island (안면도) in South Chungcheong Province. Especially during the summer months, the area attracted some 100,000 tourists annually. Yet on December 15, 2007, this special area along Korea’s West Sea coast became the site of the nation’s largest-ever oil spill. Some 12,500 kiloliters of oil devastated the local tourism and fishing industries.
For better or worse, the Korean people are no strangers to overcoming tragedy, so in short order locals sought ways to reinvigorate their local economy. To that end, they’ve decided to boost the domestic floricultural industry. To see what they have in mind, one must only visit Korea Floritopia 2009 (안면도 국제꽃박람회).
If anything positive came out of the big oil spill, it was the 1.2 million volunteers from all over Korea who made pilgrimages to the western beaches to clean up the mess. Under the theme, “Flower, Ocean and Dreams,” Korea Floritopia organizers say their festival in dedicated in part to thanking those volunteers.
The setting is beautiful Kkotji Beach on Anmyeondo island, Korea’s sixth largest island. On site are millions of flowers representing nearly 60 different species. Some 15 outdoor gardens are punctuated by seven large indoor exhibition halls. Those halls, which cover nearly 800,000 square meters, house 21 exhibitions covering a variety of themes, like “Wild Flower Hall” and “Flower of the Future.”
Inside the arboretum, guests can view the ecology of a marsh. I especially enjoyed the “Flower Food” kiosk. Sure, it was basically just delicious doughy bread or rice cakes with a flower attached on top by honey… but it was still tasty.
Beyond flower viewing, Korea Floritopia has performances and competitions for visitors. Try your hand at flower arrangement or check out a non-flower related exhibit, like one celebrating the 1,000 year history of Korean celadon porcelain.
The Korea Floritopia festival runs now through May 20th. In true Korean festival fashion, there were an unbelievable number of people. And at 15,000 won per adult it’s not cheap. But given how much the local economy has suffered since the 2007 oil spill, let’s hope it’s money well spent.
One more tip. This being Korea’s west coast, it’s famous for beautiful sunsets. If you’ve got the time, just off the festival grounds is a rocky point punctuated by two large rocks called Kkotji Halmi and Halabi (Grandmother and Grandfather) rocks. The view from there – which was just designated a “Scenic Site” by the Cultural Heritage Administration – is worth the wait..
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