The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Local festivals disappoint as cherry trees blossom late

By Lim Jae-seong

Published : April 6, 2024 - 16:01

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Cherry trees are seen without blooms in Yeouido, Seoul on March 29, the day Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival begins. (Yonhap) Cherry trees are seen without blooms in Yeouido, Seoul on March 29, the day Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival begins. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s local flower festivals this year have so far fallen short of expectations as cherry blossoms did not reach their peak in time.

Jinhae Gunhangje in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, saw a decline of about 1.2 million in the number of visitors this year, a Changwon official said to local media.

While 4.2 million visited the most well-known cherry blossom festival in South Korea last year, the city tallied the number of visitors at 3 million during the 10 days of the festival, which ended Monday.

The blooms were expected on 360,000 trees planted in the area's parks and naval bases, but the blooming rate remained at only 15 percent on March 23, the first date of the festival.

Other famous cherry blossom festivals including ones in Yeouido and Jamsil in Seoul also ended with many of the flowers still budding. The number of visitors to the Yeouido festival dropped to less than half of last year’s figure, according to local media reports.

The festivals’ schedules have been pulled earlier than the previous years as the date the flowers bloom has gradually become earlier, and it was forecast to get even earlier this year.

Those festivals in Changwon and Seoul were pulled forward by a week from the previous year.

But this March had colder temperatures and less sunshine than average, which experts say caused the earlier forecasts about when the blooms would peak to be wrong.

Local government found the misprediction embarrassing as the spring festivals have been an important opportunity for local businesses to promote their products.

Some cities decided to postpone their spring festivals or even hold their festivals again.

Sokcho, Gangwon Province, begins the second term of its cherry blossom festival on Saturday, after a week since its first term festival dropped the curtain.

A post the city uploaded on its social media account reads “We deserve to die for our mistake, but we could not control the season,” explaining that they had to open the festival twice because of the lack of blossoms.

Gangneung in Gangwon Province also holds the Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, after delaying it by a week from March 29.