Back To Top

Pretty in pink

Annual Jinhae Gunhangje Festival attracts millions during full bloom

JINHAE, South Gyeongsang Province ― The view of thousands of cherry blossom trees blanketing the streets of Jinhae, showering the air with floating pink petals, is beyond picturesque. The small seaside town in South Gyeongsang Province attracts some 2 million local and international visitors every year around the end of March and the beginning of April for one sole reason: to bask in the abundance of lush cherry blossoms that engulf the town during Jinhae’s annual Gunhangje, or naval port, festival.

The festival was first held on April 13, 1952, as a small celebratory ceremony held in honor of one of Korea’s most admired naval heroes, Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who played a key role in defeating the Japanese invaders during the Imjin War from 1592 to 1598. Now, more than 60 years later, the Jinhae Gunhangje has become one of the country’s largest festivals. And with the town’s plethora of cherry blossoms, the festival is held in tandem with the springtime season, making Jinhae a must-see destination in April. 
Cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Jinhae on March 31, one day ahead of the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival. (Yonhap News)
Cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Jinhae on March 31, one day ahead of the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival. (Yonhap News)

Festival organizers estimate there to be approximately 340,000 cherry blossoms scattered throughout the city, creating some of the most unforgettable views of the flowers. Jinhae has the country’s largest number of cherry blossoms that stay in bloom for no more than a couple of weeks at the start of the spring season. Visitors have flocked to Jinhae to enjoy this year’s festival that kicked off on April 1 and will continue until April 10.

The two most popular cherry blossom attractions and sightseeing destinations in Jinhae during the annual festival are Yeojwacheon Stream and the Gyeonghwa Railway Station, which were both named on CNNGo’s list of “50 beautiful places to visit in Korea.” Yeojwacheon Stream is the main location of the Gunhangje Festival and is a belowground man-made stream that spans approximately 1.5 kilometers. The stream is lined with straight clusters of cherry blossom trees on both sides and the flower-filled branches umbrella over the stream, creating an enchantingly scenic pink canopy.

Visitors can walk along and view the stream below on the wooden pathways built on either side as well as take advantage of prime photo opportunities by walking across the various bridges that connect the pathways across the stream. In the evenings the area is lit up with decorative lights and lanterns, spotlighting the delicate pink petals as the hanging tree branches reflect off the water of the stream.

Also along the long stretch of the stream is a promenade lined with a seemingly endless line of food vendors selling various treats from Korean snacks, such as rice cakes and dried seafood, to corn on the cob, French fry-covered hot dogs and even Turkish kebabs and traditional Turkish sticky ice cream.

The second-most popular destination for cherry blossom sightseeing in Jinhae is Gyeonghwa Railway Station. Much like the Yeojwacheon Stream, the 800-meter stretch of railway is flooded with thousands of bountiful cherry blossom trees that run alongside the railroad tracks. What makes this attraction so popular among tourists and photographers is the petal shower that occurs as a train passes. Typically, the train to Jinhae Station passes through the Gyeonghwa Railway tracks, allowing both train passengers and onlookers outside to witness the blossoms being swept up by the wind of the passing train, creating a sea of petals to shower the air and flutter back to the ground. However, due the crowds that swarm around the tracks, the train is forced to reduce its speed, oftentimes resulting in a less-than-vivacious petal shower. 
Visitors watch and snap photographs as a train pulls in at Gyeonghwa Railway Station in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap News)
Visitors watch and snap photographs as a train pulls in at Gyeonghwa Railway Station in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap News)

One of the unique opportunities at the Gyeonghwa Railway Station is the chance to walk on the tracks when the trains are not running, allowing the visitors to walk along and beneath the trees and fallen petals. This railway scene was also made famous through its appearance in the Korean drama “Romance.”

The area of Jinhae has no shortage of picture-perfect sights. However, one of the few downsides to the annual festival is the heavy crowds that gather at these must-see spots, forcing people to wait around before they can snap their picturesque keepsakes.

The 10-day citywide festival offers visitors some of the best opportunities to take a stroll beneath the endless streams of canopying cherry blossom tress as well as the chance to enjoy festive parades and marching bands, light shows, and a fireworks show as well as special musical performances.

This year’s festival will include performances by G.Na, Girls’ Day, Kim Kyung-ho, Lee Young-hyun and others at the KBS Open Concert on Sunday, April 8. Other events include the laser and light graphic storytelling show at Yeojwacheon Stream every night from 6―11 p.m. The festival is jam-packed with many creative and cultural events and activities for all to make the most out of what Jinhae has to offer. For more information on the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival, visit

By Julie Jackson (