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Cultural Insight: Korean history of Arbor Day

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Arbor Day (Sikmogil) was a public holiday in the South Korea on April 5 until 2005.

However, many Koreans still celebrate the holiday.

One of the reasons April 5 was chosen as Arbor Day was because the clear and balmy season (Cheongmyeong) was the best time for planting flowers and trees.

April 5 was also the day Silla Kingdom unified Korea, and King Songjong cultivated a field known as 'Sonnongdan' outside of Tongdaemun in 1343.

Arbor Day as we know it now began in 1950 during the Korean War.

The war between the communist north and the democratic south was so severe that forest and mountains were destroyed, along with the trees on them.

As a result, in the first spring after the end of the Korean War, South Koreans had a country-wide celebration of Arbor Day to begin the reforestation of the war-ravaged country.

The Korean government designated April 5 as Arbor Day and made it a time for all the citizens to plant trees and other plants.

Decades later, the forests have returned. Today, citizens still plant trees and flowers and clean up the surrounding hilltops and mountain areas, and the day serves as a reminder to respect nature and the environment.

In 2006, the Korean government decided to cancel this public holiday.

However, Arbor Day is celebrated in more than 50 countries in various forms, such as Greening Week of Japan, 'the New Year's Days of Trees' in Israel, 'Reforestation Week' of Yugoslavia, 'National Festival of Tree Planting' in India.

Enough with the history lesson, let's roll up our sleeves and make our world greener.

Editor's note: Cultural Insight is a series of articles on Korean culture. If you have questions about the Korean culture or topics you would like to see covered by the 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, e-mail us or call 784-4044.