Every year in mid-March, the Sandong-myeon area in Gurye, Jeollanam-do takes on yellow hues from the sansuyu (cornus fruit) flowers surrounding the area. Seen from afar, sansuyu can easily be mistaken for forsythia. Up close, however, it is a very small flower with petals only about 2 millimeters long. The flower is not that fancy on its own, but when seen by the thousands, they become a sight to behold. Read on to learn more about Gurye Sansuyu Festival, which heralds the arrival of spring.
Photo: Views of the Gurye Sansuyu Flowers (Left, photo courtesy of Gurye-gun Office)
The annual event of Gurye Sansuyu Festival is held March 19-27 in the hot springs district of Jirisan Mountain in Gurye, when the refreshing spring breeze blows in from the Seomjingang River. Gurye accounts for more than 73% of all sansuyu in the nation, as it offers optimal conditions for sansuyu cultivation, such as good natural drainage and a wide temperature difference between day and night. The area most famous for sansuyu is Sandong-myeon Sangwi Maeul Village. The origin of the name of the place “Sandong” was based on the story that about a thousand years ago, a maiden from Shan Dong, China came to marry a Korean man in a mountain village in Jirisan. Upon her arrival, she planted a single sansuyu tree that she brought with her from China.
Photo: Panorama view of sansuyu flowers in Gurye (Photo courtesy of Gurye-gun Office)
The small villages within Gurye Sansuyu Village each offer a uniquely different landscape. In particular, about 30,000 trees that bear sansuyu flowers are planted, turning the village into a spectacular field of yellow spring flowers in March. The most attraction and beautiful element of this place is the tranquility and healing atmosphere that visitors can get as they take a leisure walk of appreciation around. Almost every other corner in the village makes a good photo spot, thus drawing flocks of tourists to the village every year.
Photo: Overview of Hyeoncheon Village (Photo courtesy of Gurye-gun Office)
To enjoy the festival in a leisurely pace, visitors are recommended to visit Hyeoncheon Maeul village in Wonchon-ri. Unlike Sangwi village, which bustles with visitors during the sansuyu season, Hyeoncheon is less frequented, offering a quieter ambiance. The reservoir by the entrance to the village is located on one of the walking trails of Jirisan Mountain. The sight of the village reflected on the reservoir waters makes for a beautiful spring photograph.
Photo: Sansuyu replicas spotted in every other spot at the festival
Withstanding a bitter wind that still bears traces of winter that just ended; the yellow fields of sansuyu give a definite sign of spring's arrival. Sansuyu replicas can be found throughout the Gurye Sansuyu Festival venue, providing visitors with ample photo opportunities. This year, visitors to the festival may enjoy a variety of activities and events at Jirisan marketplace, a newly spruced section of about 1.2km area. Walk along the beautiful flower paths with your family, friends or loved ones and do not forget to take a photo memento or experience some hands-on activities for some added fun!
※ Hands-on activities and events are on a first-come-first-serve basis, and subject to changes.
Gurye Sansuyu Festival
☞ Festival period: March 19-27, 2016
☞ Address: Sandong-myeon, Gurye-gun, Jeollanam-do (Areas of Jirisan Hot Springs Tourism Complex)
- From Seoul Nambu Terminal, take a bus bound for Gurye Bus Terminal. (Total travel time: approx. 3 hrs 10 min / 9 times per day / First bus at 06:30 / Fare 19,900 won)
- From Gurye Bus Terminal Bus Stop, take any local bus heading in the direction of Jirisan Hot Springs Tourism Complex (지리산온천관광단지).
*Note: the bus schedule and ticket price are subject to change.
☞ Admission: Free (Separate fees applicable for hands-on activities)
☞ Website: sansuyu.gurye.go.kr (Korean only)
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Other Nearby Tourist Attractions
Photo: Gurye Hwaeomsa Temple
Situated on the southwest corner of Jirisan Mountain, Hwaeomsa Temple, a temple with a long and rich history. With many trees and a valley nearby the temple, there are also many national treasures found in the Gakhwangjeon Pavilion, as well as, several natural monuments that serve as cultural assets.
Photo: Streets of the market
The Gurye 5-day market is held on dates ending in a 3 or 8, thus occurring every five days. Together with the Hwagae Market in Hadong, Gyeongsangnam-do, the Gurye 5-day market has long been a leading open-air traditional market in the southern region where people from Gyeongsangnam-do and Jeollanam-do mingle together as both sellers and buyers. The Gurye market is visited by a large group of people from nearby Namwon, Gokseong, Suncheon, and Hadong. This kind of market is hard to find in big cities and visitors are sure to meet a unique traditional market ambiance and generous merchants.
Culinary Delights of Gurye
Daseulgi (marsh snail) have a bluish flesh inside a light brown shell, and come in a number of varieties. Daseulgi sujebi is a soup with dough flakes and marsh snails caught from the clean waters of Seomjingang River. The marsh snail is used to flavor the broth. In addition to the marsh snails, onion and chives are added to the soup along with chunks of dough that are torn into small pieces by hand. After being warmed over the fire for some time, the soup will turn green, and voila, the daseulgi sujebi is ready! Daseulgi sujebi can easily be found in restaurants in Gurye, and the price is usually around 7,000 won per person.
Flanking Jirisan Mountain and Seomjingang River, Gurye boasts a splendid natural landscape. The mountains are deep and the waters are clear, so the area is rich in clean wild vegetables year round. Some wild greens and vegetables like balloon flowers, bracken, and groundsel found at the foot of Jirisan Mountain are high in both flavor and nutritional value. For this reason, these wild vegetables are highly popular and widely consumed.
The Gurye Sanchae Jeongsik is a table d'hôte meal from the Namdo region featuring various wild vegetables in season picked from Jirisan Mountain. Enjoy the vegetables with doenjang-jjigae (soup made of soybean paste) served in a ttukbaegi bowl (earthenware bowl) and jeyuk-bokkeum (hot and spicy pork dish) for added flavor and taste. The price ranges between 12,000 won and 15,000 won per person.
* This column was last updated in March 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check from the official websites before visiting.
<Last updated on March 14, 2016>