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The romanticism of snow: South Korean style

January 25, 2009

In a recent post on Seoul, I wrote about the recent snowfall that fell across the city. Some of my readers were unaware that it snowed here in Seoul. It does and often in winter. It is always a pleasure to share new experiences, insights and ideas with readers. Here is another one for you.

Usually towards the end of winter in South Korea, when the mountains have collected their annual fall and just before the spring thaws, many brave Koreans take to the mountains with two purposes in mind: fitness and snow flowers.

Whenever my Korean friends talk about going hiking to see these snow flowers,  images of similar alpine plants in New Zealand- Mount Cook Buttercup, or Austria – Edelweiss, come to mind.

One day after what seemed like an ongoing interrogation about these snow flowers, my friend calmly pulled out his notebook and “navered” it (Korean equivalent to google).

“Here”  he said.
I peered at the screen. Before me were what seemed like fluffy white cotton looking flowers amassed on trees. Strange how they could survive the freezing temperatures. As I moved closer towards the screen, the image transformed from impressionism to realism.
“How do you call these in English?” my friend asked pointing at the image.
“Blobs of snow on a tree” was my very unromantic, non-lyrical response.

Then came silence from both parties.  My friend was deep in thought, no doubt about the dullness of the English language, and our perception on life. But I was thinking about romanticism, Korean romanticism. The notion that something so simple could be defined into something poetical impressed me. And it has been like that for centuries. After all Korea has been around for several thousand years. Much longer than my culture.

One of the best experiences you can have as an expat is learning and relearning about life. That day in a cafe, my perceptions on how cultures view the world, see nature, and appreciate things, changed. I finally figured out what artists have been doing all these years.

Today after a recent snowfall, I went for a walk in neighbouring Olympic Park, my favourite place for photos during winter. This time I was on a mission to find my own version of a snowflower:

by Cate

by Cate

Fluffy white cotton amassed on small branches. Blooming for as long as the temperatures allow.

Too bad I can’t bring these inside.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. January 25, 2009 3:23 pm

    Hi Cate,
    Thank you for your comment, please feel free to ask me further questions related to your planned trip to Hong Kong
    Have a nice trip, anyway !

  2. January 25, 2009 10:57 pm

    I knew that it snowed in Seoul. Here in the USA we had a TV show that was about that area, and it was snowy there quite often. I’ve also been looking at puffs of snow on the branches of trees and bushes recently. I’ve been fascinated by them, and have taken many pictures. I never had a word for them, but I’m going to start calling them Snow Flowers from now on.:)

  3. Cate permalink
    January 26, 2009 2:50 am

    On travel – my pleasure, your site is worth commenting on. And I will be back.

    Ratty – Snow flowers sounds much better than blobs of snow. People will probably look at you and think “now there is someone who knows what they are on about” Would love to see your shots of the snow flowers.

  4. January 26, 2009 8:09 pm

    ‘Snowflowers’ as opposed to ‘blobs of snow on a tree’ – what a difference!
    Snow is romantic, without a doubt. There is some country, or place, that has almost 100 words for ‘snow’. I think. Have forgotten where I first read about it.

    • January 27, 2009 9:01 am

      Erica – A 100 words for snow, like you I have read about that one as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were somewhere in Asia. Korea has around that number for the word “red”.

      SCS – you are welcome on both accounts!

  5. January 26, 2009 9:58 pm

    Oh, I love the mountains of Korea in the winter. Thanks for the literary trip back there. And for the lovely photo.

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