Posted by: Matt Kelley | 12 May 2009

Korea Floritopia 2009

20090508_tulips

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).

20090508_grasspantsI love the grass pants. This was part of an exhibit about traditional children’s stories.

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,” Floritopia organizers say their festival in dedicated in part to thanking those volunteers.

20090508_kkotjibeachKorea Floritopia 2009 is located alongside Kkotji Beach on Anmyeondo Island.

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.”

20090508_rapeseedAn impressive field of yellow rapeseed flowers with ranunculus in the foreground.

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.

20090508_sistersHamming it up for mom and dad.

Beyond flower viewing, 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.

20090508_jangseungOne of my favorite pieces of Korean folk culture are jangseung, wooden totems that ward off evil spirits.

The 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.

20090508_sunsetJust off the festival grounds is a famous area for watching the sunset.

map_floritopia

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 Grandmother and Grandfather rock. The view from there is worth the wait.

More Information:
Korea Floritopia 2009 Official Site (in English)

Getting There:
→ From Seoul, buses leave from Nambu Bus Terminal (subway line 3) for Kkotji Beach.

The festival hours are 09:00-19:00 every day except Saturdays, when it closes at 22:00. Tickets are 15000 won for adults, 11,000 for students and 8,000 for children.

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Responses

  1. Hi Matt,
    Appreciate the effort you put into your lovely pics and the informative/ witty captions. Plus thanks for the link to the official website. Makes me want to salute the organisers for such a comprehensive festival of flowers. Saw on KBS Newspage there was another flower fest going on in Gyeongi-do. How many such flower fests are there in Korea? What’s your impression of the contrasts with the way Americans organise similar events?

    Regards,
    SL

  2. Hi SL,
    Thanks for the note and nice remarks. I can’t give you an exact number, but there are scores of flower festivals each spring all over the country. I think Floritopia is among the largest (if not the largest) In terms with how they compare to U.S. flower events, I can’t say I’ve been to anything similar in the States… which may kind of be the point. Korea’s “festival” scene is unlike most of what I’ve seen while traveling inside the U.S. and in other parts of the world.

    Best, Matt


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