OWL Magazine Korea

Seoul, Weeping Cherry Blossom Spot “National Cemetery”

When spring arrives, various flowers bloom, and among them, cherry blossoms are the most famous. When cherry blossoms bloom, it’s covered in the news, and many people go out to see the flowers. In reality, it would be more appropriate to say that people use the excuse of seeing the flowers as a reason for a date.

“The Flower Blooming on Cherry Trees, Cherry Blossoms”

Cherry blossoms are, as the name suggests, flowers that bloom on cherry trees. They are famous for their pink or white petals that bloom brightly in spring. The symbolic meanings of cherry blossoms include beautiful spirit, soul, spiritual love, and the beauty of life.

“Blooming Period”

There are standards for blooming and full bloom. When three or more flowers bloom on a single branch, it’s called “blooming,” and when over 80% of the entire tree’s flowers have bloomed, it’s considered “full bloom.” The blooming period starts from late March to early April, first in the warm southern regions.

“Weeping Cherry Blossoms Unique to the National Cemetery in Seoul”

In April, the National Cemetery is also covered in flowers. After the forsythias turn yellow, the entire area including the forsythias and the area around the stream is filled with cherry blossoms around mid-April.

However, the cherry blossoms at the National Cemetery are different from those in other regions. In general, cherry trees in Korea are mostly king cherry trees, but the ones at the National Cemetery are weeping cherry trees, which have long-drooping branches.

The weeping cherry tree is mainly found in the central region of Korea. It is said that during the Byeongjahoran in the Joseon Dynasty, when King Hyojong was taken captive to the Qing Dynasty as part of the Northern Expedition plan, he planted weeping cherry trees to be used as material for making bows. In that sense, the Weeping cherry blossoms align well with the spirit of the patriotic martyrs who dedicated themselves to overcome national crises and the significance of the National Cemetery.

“The Cherry Blossom-Filled April at the National Cemetery”

Although you can visit the National Cemetery nearby, I hadn’t visited it much, often using proximity as an excuse. When cherry blossoms are in full bloom, I heard that you can see a different scenery at the National Cemetery, compared to the typical cherry blossoms, so I decided to visit.

The National Cemetery is easily accessible by getting off at “Dongjak Station” where Subway Lines 4 and 9 pass. As soon as I entered the entrance, I could easily tell that the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Not only were the cherry blossoms in full bloom, but I could also enjoy the sight of people who came to the National Cemetery for an outing.

The April National Cemetery, filled with cherry blossoms, is bustling with people. Especially near the entrance of the National Cemetery, you can see many people taking photos of the weeping cherry blossoms.

“The Charming Little Pond of the National Cemetery”

In addition to cherry blossoms, various other flowers like forsythias are in full bloom around the area of the stream. It still doesn’t feel completely well-tended, but it exudes a charming atmosphere. You can see a crowd of people taking photos against the backdrop of the blooming flowers.

Of course, on both sides of the stream, the graves of the patriotic martyrs are lined up. While enjoying a pleasant time at the National Cemetery, it’s important not to forget the solemn hearts for those who sacrificed themselves for the country.

“The Memorial Gate and Memorial Tower of the National Cemetery”

Passing through the main gate of the National Cemetery and crossing the square, you can find the Memorial Gate and Memorial Tower. They are symbolic spaces that announce the beginning of the National Cemetery. After contemplating the meaning of the Memorial Tower, which symbolizes the patriotism and love for the country of the patriotic martyrs, it’s even better to go for a cherry blossom walk. Inside the Memorial Tower, there are the remains of over 100,000 soldiers who couldn’t be found during the Korean War.

“The Presidential Gravesite Section of the National Cemetery”

The most visited place by people at the National Cemetery is the section where the graves of the former presidents are located. Presidents Syngman Rhee, Park Chung-hee, and Kim Dae-jung are neatly arranged around the General Gravesite. Take a moment to pay your respects at each former president’s gravesite. Near the General Gravesite, you can find a small pond. Taking a moment to rest while gazing at the pond is also nice.

“The Impressive Scale of the National Cemetery”

The scale of the National Cemetery is quite impressive. Especially on hot days, there’s almost no shade, so it’s easy to get tired. If you rely solely on looking at the map and move around on foot, you might have difficulty finding your way. I remember wandering for a while because the map didn’t clearly show the way when I visited the gravesites of the former presidents. So, if you plan to explore every corner of the National Cemetery, it’s a good idea to mentally prepare and plan in advance.

Of course, in April when Weeping cherry blossoms are in full bloom, you can also have a great time near the entrance of the National Cemetery. However, even in this case, it’s good to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the National Cemetery’s existence before enjoying the cherry blossoms.

“National Cemetery of Korea in Dongjak, Seoul”