Japan-originated cherry blossoms mean different things to Koreans, Americans

Visitors enjoy cherry blossoms around the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, during the annual spring flower festival, Tuesday. Yonhap

Yeouido is a former island in the Han River that became connected to the capital’s southern side through a river redevelopment project decades ago.Along with key financial and media landmarks, it is the center of national politics and a symbol of Korea’s democracy, with the National Assembly taking up one-eighth of the island’s total area.It is also home to the most renowned spring flower festival in the city, the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival. Bright white and pink tunnels of cherry blossom trees around the Assembly usher in the start of the new season every spring, welcoming millions of visitors to celebrate annual cherry blossom festivities and take selfies among the 1,365 iconic cherry trees. These cherry blossoms of Yeouido are quite similar to those around the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, in many ways. They both originate from Japan, attract millions of tourists every peak bloom season and foresee their last blooms this spring.Despite some similarities, feelings toward them are completely different in both cities due to historical reasons.The trees in Tidal Basin in the U.S. capital were gifts from Japan to the United States as a symbol of international friendship in 1912. There are approximately 3,800 of the trees within the park under the maintenance of the National Park Service of the United States.

Locals and tourists have celebrated cherry trees’ blooming “in solidarity” for over a century, according to the National Park Service. One of the trees even went viral and became a social media sensation during the COVID-19 pandemic.This much-beloved tree is known as “Stumpy,” nicknamed by a Redditor who joked that the scraggly tree with its rotting trunk and single branch looks as dead as his love life. Despite its dowdy appearance, the tree continues to bloom year after year while also becoming an object of public sympathy.For years, visitors waited in line to snap a picture with Stumpy while some fans even made T-shirts and calendars of the iconic tree to call for its preservation.Although these trees’ average lifespan is around 60 years, the National Park Service planted hundreds of descendants from the 1912 donation to carry on the genetic lineage of the original trees.Nevertheless, to many admirers’ dismay, 158 of these beloved trees including Stumpy will be cut down in June as part of the National Park Service’s $113 million repair of the Tidal Basin’s seawalls slated to begin in May. Due to rising sea levels from the climate crisis, the water level of the Potomac River has gone up by more than a foot and regular surges of tidal waters over the barriers have soaked some of the trees’ roots.Several major U.S. news media reported Stumpy’s last spring at the Tidal Basin, and noted that clippings from the tree will be sent to the U.S. National Arboretum to create genetic matches, 온라인카지노 which will hopefully result in Stumpy’s clones being planted in nearby parks.

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