The ecological origin story of Wimi’s Camellia Forest

dsc02035The Camellia Forest (Monument 39, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province) in Wimi Village, Namwon-eup, Seogwipo has an historical — and interestingly environmental — story.

img_20161129_151317A young woman by the name of Hyeon Byeongchun moved to the island’s southeast in the late 1800s. There she found much of the land laying barren and unused.

After working hard collecting seaweed and doing other jobs to save money, she bought a plot of land there and sowed it with seeds from camellia trees found on Hallasan Mountain.

Her plan to protect and nurture the land with these strong trees worked. Eventually a lush forest took root, keeping the land protected from the strong winds and heavy rain that would otherwise adversely affect crops.

Because of Hyeon’s forethought, the people of Wimi prospered and today we can enjoy the beautiful red blossoms of these trees.

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Did you know?

Though it may seem counterintuitive, there are places in Wimi where the Camellias hit full bloom in January. (A local resident let us in on this bit of local knowledge and urged us to come back then. We will!)

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These trees will be blooming in January!

How to get there: From Jeju City Intercity Bus Terminal, catch bus 730 and get off at Saecheon-dong bus stop in Wimi Village. The trip will take about one hour and fifteen minutes, and there’s a short walk from the bus stop to the Camellia Forest. From Seogwipo the 730 will get you there in about 45 minutes.

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