Photo: Cherry blossom road at Gyeonghwa Station (Photo courtesy of Changwon Office)
Every year around early April, visitors flock to Jinhae in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do to enjoy the spectacular cherry blossoms that blanket the whole town at Korea's largest cherry blossom festival, Jinhae Gunhangje Festival.
The festival was first held on April 13, 1952 as a small ceremony commemorating Admiral Yi Sun-shin, a Korean naval hero who played an important role in defeating the Japanese army during the Imjin War (1592-1598). Today, it has become one of the largest festivals in the country, with approximately 2 million visitors annually. The endless canopy of cherry blossoms over the entire city makes a dazzling sight that awes everyone.
When the flower petals fall and dance along the gentle spring breeze, the atmosphere gets magical to stroll under these full-bloom trees. Crowds who prefer a more romantic view may opt to go during the night time, as the streets will be lit up on the both sides along the trees. In particular, the Yeojwacheon Stream and the cherry blossoms lining Gyeonghwa Station earned its title for must-go destinations among groups of love birds, family and friends alike. These two sites are the most popular cherry blossom attractions in Jinhae, but the entire city is magnificently covered with cherry blossoms, offering great photo opportunities on every other street. If you plan to travel to Korea in the spring, make sure to visit Jinhae to enjoy the wonderful cherry blossoms!
When traveling from Masan to Jinhae, the Jangboksan Sculpture Park is the first cherry blossom site that visitors will come across. The park has nearly 10,000 cherry trees that run along the hiking trails and amidst the pine trees. At the summit of the park, one can view downtown Jinhae and Jinhaeman Bay on the southern coast. Pack a lunch and you can picnic underneath these beautiful cherry blossoms in this park!
Located at the source of the Yeojwacheon Stream, the Jinhae Inland Water Environmental Eco Park houses many cherry blossoms near its pristine reservoir. The wetland is home to about 65 species of trees and a variety of wildlife, making it a good place for visitors to learn about nature in a relaxing environment.
The path spans about 1.5 kilometers from downtown Jinhae to the Jinhae Girls' High School. Both sides of Yeojwacheon Stream are lined with cherry blossom trees that create a natural canopy over the stream. The walking paths above and next to the stream are some of the most beautiful places to view the cherry blossoms in Jinhae. Visitors can take romantic pictures against the backdrop of cherry flowers on beautiful arched bridges while enjoying delicious street food. In the evening, the area is decorated with ornamental lights, creating a romantic ambience.
The Korea Naval Academy is usually only accessible to visitors through its tour program, but during the Gunhangje Festival, the academy is open to the public and welcomes visitors with beautiful cherry blossoms. Walk along the cherry blossom trees from the Admiral Yi Sun-shin statue at the Bukwon Rotary to arrive at the academy where there is a full-scale model of an ironclad turtle ship built and used by Admiral Yi Sun-shin during the Imjin War. The academy also has a museum dedicated to the Korean Navy and documents related to Admiral Yi. Make sure to check the academy's opening hours before visiting.
The park is located in the center of Jinhae at the Jehwangsan Mountain. Even though visitors must climb 365 steps in order to get a panoramic view of downtown Jinhae blanketed with cherry blossoms, the beauty of the forsythia and cherry blossom on the hike up makes it enjoyable as well. For those that do not wish to break a sweat, there is also a monorail car that brings visitors up to the summit.
Anmin Hill is the gateway to Jinhae from Changwon. The road up the hill features a 6 kilometer stretch of beautiful cherry blossoms on both sides. Near the hill top are azalea fields in full bloom, combining with the cherry blossoms for a beautiful scene. The area is usually free of traffic, and it is an excellent place to take a walk under the shades of the cherry blossom trees. The top of Anmin Hill at night offers splendid views of Jinhae City where street lights illuminate the cherry blossom trees.
As trains pass Gyeonghwa Station, the cherry blossom trees are swept by the wind, showering the ground with leaves. In between trains, visitors can walk on the tracks and stand beneath the falling petals. This 800 meter-long stretch of railway at Gyeonghwa Station is considered one of the best cherry blossom attractions of Jinhae. The area is often featured in Korean movies and TV shows. During the festival period, couples can be seen taking their wedding pictures here. To avoid crowds, try to visit the station in the morning.
There will be a grand opening event by the navy military band and choir performances.
A fantastic fireworks display will take place over the beautiful sea of Jinhae.
A parade held by General Yi Sun-shin and his troops after winning the Imjin war against Japan will be reenacted.
The Yeojwacheon Stream will be decorated with ornamental lights, laser beams, and mirrors, offering a fantastic evening viewing experience.
A special collaboration ‘Cherry Blossom x Electronic Dance Music (EDM)’ event, featuring local and international renowned DJs.
※ Aforementioned schedule is subject to changes.
* 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 22, 2016>