While other plants may be withering into the colder months, chrysanthemums are in full bloom this month in Korea. Chrysanthemums are one of the Sagunja, 사군자, Korea’s four ‘noble flowers’ that represent the seasons. The other three are orchids, bamboo and plum flowers.
Traditionally, people have enjoyed the flowers not just by looking at them, but by eating them, especially in pancakes, and pressing them to make seasonal liquor. The small yellow edible variety known as Gamguk 감국 is common for these treats. If you can get some flowers, give the pancakes a whirl with Arirang.
Many chrysanthemum events and festivals are held around the country between October and mid-November. If you’re in Seoul, The Garden of Morning Calm near Cheonpyeong Subway station has an ongoing festival, and other beautiful autumn leaves to see. In Busan, the Sasang Chrysanthemum Festival close to Sasang Metro Station has some impressive giant sculptures covered in the flowers. Masan Gagopa Chrysanthemum Festival in Changwon City, South Gyeongsang province, is one of the country’s biggest flower festivals. Iksan, in North Jeolla province, is home to the Ten Million Chrysanthemum Festival. Floral fans can really take their pick of festivities this month.
My Korean Husband visits Iksan