It’s that time of year again, when the cold of winter fades away and gives birth to the beautiful pink and white hues of cherry blossoms contrasted against their trees’ elegant dark branches. It’s a season long identified with Japanese culture around the world.

However, news organizations in South Korea are declaring that this has gone on long enough and are calling for a concerted effort to let everyone know once and for all that cherry blossoms are theirs.

■ Would a cherry tree by any other name smell as confusing?

This isn’t the first year the debate of cherry blossom ownership has been raised. The species in question is known as the King cherry (wangbeojnamu) in Korea and Yoshino cherry (somei Yoshino) in Japan. The even have nearly identical scientific names of Prunus Yedoensis and Prunus x Yedoensis respectively.

Those formal names likely stick in the craw of Koreans as it was assigned by Japanese botanist Ninzo Matsumura after the Edo (Tokyo) region of Japan without any substantial proof of the actual native habitat of the species.

Although there has been no definitive proof either way regarding the true home of these trees they are basically considered unique species with the King cherry originating from Jeju Island in South Korea while the Yoshino cherry is a hybrid of the King cherry but genetically distinct and native to Japan.

Image: Wikipedia – Uberlemur

■ “Backed by Science”

This year’s claims by the media of pretty cherry trees having a home in Korea is said to have gotten highly credible backing by the Korean Forest Research Institute who have accumulated studies from both sides and found that the evidence supporting a Korean origin far outnumbered any evidence for Japan.

In addition, DNA found in the cherry trees given to Washington D.C. By Japan was reported to be linked to Jeju Island trees. The Institute has also found over 100 Yoshino cherry trees that they feel are native to Jeju Island based on their locations and surrounding plant-life.

Image: Wikipedia – Tyoron2

■ Reaction

Naturally, considering Japan and Korea’s often tumultuous relationship the debate of what nation is the source of cherry blossoms stirs emotions on both sides. Here’s what Japanese netizens had to say.

“Here we go again…”
“So what if the cherry blossoms originated in Korea? Do they want a reward?”
“Yes, yes, they all come from Korea. We get it. What else?”
“Oh hey it’s spring!”

Meanwhile in Korea, readers of these newly galvanized claims of cherry blossom ownership reacted with an equally bored demeanor.

“There areas are so close geographically, there isn’t much point in arguing it.”
“Cherry blossoms are cherry blossoms. No need to ruin them with nationalism.”
“It’s still not proven yet?”
“In the spring Japan enjoys their modified cherry blossoms while Korea enjoys their pure cherry blossoms. Let’s just all enjoy the flowers and not waste unnecessary emotional energy.”

That last comment seems to have very nicely summed up the feeling of regular people in both countries: the flowers are pretty so who cares where they come from?

Image: Wikipedia – Tak1701d

That being said, I could sympathize with Korea if the blossoms truly were native to their land but instead are deeply connected to another country. However, going around citing research and DNA analysis likely won’t win anyone over to their side.

No, the real solution would be to throw some truly legendary cherry blossom viewing parties so that the world takes notice and wants to be in Korea when those pink buds open up. With enough time and kick-ass events Korea could conceivably appropriate (or reappropriate) this culture from Japan.

Right, so that should effectively throw down the party gauntlet. Let’s all have a great cherry blossom season and may the most fun nation win!

Source: Searchina, Focus Asia, Hamusoku (Japanese) Science Direct (English)
Top Image: RocketNews24