Located in Gurye County, South Jeolla Province is a small neighborhood called Sansuyu Village (산수유 마을). The neighborhood is situated at the top end of a valley, and at the bottom end of the valley is a different neighborhood named Jungdong (중동). In springtime, from one neighborhood to the next the landscape is covered with clusters of Sansuyu trees and their bright yellow flowers.
Sansuyu (산수유) is the Korean name for the Cornus Fruit Tree. It’s one of the early bloomers in spring which makes the arrival of its flowers the perfect time to celebrate the change of seasons. Appropriately enough, Koreans throw a party there every year called the Sansuyu Flower Festival.
I wanted to go to the Sansuyu Flower Festival, but due to my work schedule, I had to pass up on this festival in order to go to the Gwangyang Maehwa (Japanese Apricot) Flower Festival (see my article) in the adjacent county. Both festivals were held on the same weekend this year and those who had Saturday and Sunday available for travel could have easily visited both.
I arrived on the Monday after the festival finished, so I enjoyed the same views the festival goers did but without the crowds I imagine would have been there. Sansuyu Village offered some great landscape views of the valley since it is located near the top. There were some short trails up the hillsides that one could walk through to get a little closer to the trees, but I felt the views were better from a distance.
I took a taxi down from Sansuyu Village to Jungdong, but could have just waited 30 minutes for a bus. I asked a local for some help with the bus schedule and due to a miscommunication I made, I wound up in a taxi. The same bus that would have picked me up in Sansuyu Village was now the bus I waited for in Jungdong.
While waiting for the bus I realized a couple of things. First, I realized that the small and cozy looking town of Jungdong is where the festival grounds were located. Not much except the Jiri Mountain Spa and some restaurants were within the vicinity of the bus stop. The second thing I realized is that it would have been more interesting to walk down from the Sansuyu Village to Jungdong. If I had done that, I could have taken more pictures of the beautiful scenery along the road.
Sitting at my desk and looking back, I can say that lovers of nature, like me, will enjoy exploring this part of Korea when the Sansuyu flowers bloom. If I could choose to go during the festival or after the festival, I would choose to go during the festival. Having seen where the festival grounds were located and the delicious looking restaurants, I can easily see myself enjoying the trip even more than I already did.
My final piece of advice for this trip is, if possible, to visit both the Gwangyang Maehwa Flower Festival and the Gurye Sansuyu Flower Festival during the same weekend, and to take a casual stroll down the valley from Sansuyu Village to the festival grounds so that you can take in more of the scenery.