We’ve all seen greenery growing from cracks in the concrete, right? But have you ever seen an evergreen tree growing out of limestone? Oriental arborvitae trees, which are indigenous to China and Korea, are known for growing out of remote cliffs. The likes of cork oak, Chinese wingnut, Korean ash, and more make up the natural complex of Oriental Arborvitae Forest located on Hangsan Mountain in Dongdaegu near Bullo-dong. It isn’t really easy to get out here since there is only one bus that runs in the area. However, if you do get the chance to see it for yourself you’ll see why it is registered as Natural Monument No. 1.
The plantation is considered a geographical haven for being the southernmost natural habitat of this size where oriental arborvitae trees can sprout. With more than 1,000 specially preserved trees, entering the forest is off-limits to prolong the life of the plantation and prevent artificial deterioration (littering, etc). Even at first sight, you’ll mistake it for a normal forest, but at getting a closer look you’ll be shocked to find out that it is a huge rock. Even if it were open to roam around, it would be extremely dangerous.
Ancient Korean figures also had a high appreciation for Oriental arborvitae trees. In 1540, the governor of Jeonju pointed out that a man’s character and morality should be like a pine tree; one should be able to stand tall without depending on others. When King Yeongju died in 1776, people planted oriental arborvitae seeds around his grave to pay homage. A great scholar from the early Joseon Dynasty period named Seo Geo-Jeong (1420-1488) published a compilation called ‘Sagajip” which mentioned this forest as #6 in Daegu’s top 10 most beautiful sceneries. This also indicated that this natural phenomenon is more than 500 years old.
Gwaneumsa Temple is seated directly next to the forest and
it has the longest history of all temples in the Daegu area (believed to be
built in the 7th century during the reign of King Munmu). If you go up the
small set of stairs there is immense evidence of how old the area is. Much of
the complex is heavily cracked due to natural weather corrosion. It won’t be
too long before this section will also be closed off for preservation.
As I said, this place is not very easy to get to if you’re
not in Dongdaegu. If you have a lot of time to kill, I highly recommend
exploring the area though.
535, Dunsan-ro, Dong-gu, Daegu