An Apple Picking Story in Cheongsong, Korea
While in Cheongsong for the Apple Festival of course apples needed to be picked.
Just like the Nonsan Strawberry Festival, where you can head into nearby fields and pick until your heart’s content, the Cheongsong Apple Festival has a similar activity. The tour provided by the Korean Tourism Organization allowed us to head to an orchard that had been picked clean of apples save two rows just for us and we couldn’t have been happier to see those plump red beauties dangling from the limbs of the trees.
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We arrived on the grounds to eyefuls of crates and crates of luscious reddening apples ready to be sold to the happy sweet apple loving public, but no farmer in sight. An old grandmother across the dirt road yelled in her scraggly voice to me as I took photos of leaves that the farmer wasn’t here as she’d gone to the festival that we’d ourselves just arrived from. I wandered over to see what she was on about. “What was that? She’s gone, you say? Okay,” I said, as I waved to our fearless leader to greet the grandmother and gain other valuable information that she might have.
The old grandmother came over to see what this group of misfits was up to in this orchard of delicious Cheongsong apples and our fearless leaders explained they’d tried to call ahead, but the farmer had not answered. As it was quite the debacle and we were in a time crunch, our fearless leaders asked the grandmother if she would be willing to explain how to properly pick a peck of perfect apples so that we could get underway and enjoy our time between the green trees. With so many perfect pungent apples in the orchard to pick, we followed our leaders and the old grandmother into the orchard with our cardboard boxes ready to fill. She spoke in a way only an old Korean grandmother can, short and maybe not so sweet, but to the point. And then as soon as she’d begun, she turned around and walked away. It was the simplest of explanations we’d heard on the entire tour thus far. “Find an apple that looks good, pull up and there.” And so we set right to work to find our five fresh fruity apples. The important part was that she said, “pull up” as opposed to “pull down”. You should NOT pull down but when an apple is ready, if you pull up, it will come up crisply and smoothly and ready to be eaten, so our guides continued on in explanation where the grandmother had left off.
Of course as apple picking is not the most common predicament we find ourselves in, there were photos galore to show how much fun apple picking can truly be when it’s not something you do every day.
Having visited Juwangsan National Park, the smallest national park in Korea, to see the autumn foliage and to visit Jusanji Lake, a lake made famous in the popular Korean movie “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter & Spring” and then eating Cheongsong’s famous blue chicken, and visiting Songso Gotaek, an old traditional nobleman’s home, we were having a splendid time learning more about the slow city of Cheongsong.
Surrounded by dense pine forests, Cheongsong means “green pine trees” and they were everywhere standing beautifully making the foliage and the apples really shine as they changed colors in the autumn. This county in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province may not be on most peoples’ radar as a destination to travel, but it should be. The nature is almost untouched and the mountains and small villages in the area are inviting and provide quite a few things to do including painting your own unique white porcelain that the area is famous for.
The apples in Cheongsong were delicious and the festival was fun. There wasn’t much more to ask of this fruitful expedition into Cheongsong county.
For a unique stay in the area, check out Chungwondang Hanok Houses to really experience traditional comfort in this beautiful area.
Cheongsong-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea