Surreal fields of pink grass are drawing attention, becoming a new tourist attraction in Korea.
The weird yet exquisite U.S. native pink muhly grass is emerging as the most-sought-after autumn plant, especially because the ornamental grasses offers stunning visual effects for social media photos.
In the wake of the plant’s ever-growing popularity, more local governments and district offices are keen to paint the nation’s once yellow and red autumn landscape with pink waves.
A restaurant and a church on Jeju Island are said to have first planted the grass in 2014, but it publicly made its name after being planted at a Jeju eco-park in a bid to attract more tourists, receiving rave reviews.
Since then, pink muhly gardens have been established thick and fast across the nation. Currently, there are 32 pink muhly spots.
The pink grass is known botanically as Muhlenbergia capillaris and grows up to 90 centimeters tall. The drought-tolerant and undemanding plant is especially beautiful in early September to early November.
Here are several places ensuring surreal clouds of vibrant pink panicles in fall.
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In early 2016, the Suncheonman National Garden in South Jeolla Province planted pink muhly in a 4,000-square-meter plot of land and some 36,000 grasses turn pink every late September, wowing tourists.
Around 80,000 people visit the pink garden each weekend to enjoy a pink autumn.
“Pink muhly is unassuming and ingenuous, so it matches Korean sentiment. As a result, we are considering expanding the pink muhly garden,” an official of Suncheon City said.
An 840-square-meter garden for pink muhly was built last year in the southeastern city of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province.
It is located near Cheomseongdae, an astronomical observatory, which draws more tourists who want to take pictures of pink muhly habitats against the backdrop of the historical construction.
As a result, Gyeongju has widened the area to 4,170 square meters.
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Daejeo Ecological Park, where pink muhly is extensively stretched out, has around 60,000 visitors per day during the weekend.
Amid the increasing number of plant lovers, the Busan Metropolitan Government expanded the garden recently to 6,350 square meters from 1,350 square meters.
Also on Eulsuk Island, the exotic plants can be found, replacing silver grass that grew naturally.
Yangju in Gyeonggi Province built a garden for pink muhly at Nari Park in September last year and it has doubled the size of the garden to 16,500 square meters on the back of its huge popularity.
Although the park began to charge an admission fee to visitors this year, those looking forward to seeing the grass still come to the park. According to the city, about 500,000 came to the park between Sept. 1 and Oct. 30, generating 450 million won ($394,000) in entrance fee revenue.
The city has already decided to bring the plant back next year.
This year, the popular exotic plant has reached the capital city at Haneul Park near World Cup Stadium, and Jamwon Hangang Park, and those two places are already gaining recognition as places for photography.
Seoul Metropolitan Government opened the latter with a size of 4,000 square meters.
“The pink muhly garden by the Han River is known for its beautiful atmosphere, coated in a uniform layer of pink. It is a perfect spot to take pictures in autumn, and is expected to attract the attention of both domestic and foreign tourists,” an official of the city government said.
Although pink muhly is playing a key role in attracting more tourists, a few local governments are also reluctant to introduce them to their regions due to concerns the exotic plant may disturb the ecosystem.
In Jeju Island, Pink Muhly, which blooms in September, was late blooming in Jeju Herb Dongsan due to warm temperatures.
Jeju Herb Dongsan (Jeju Herb Garden), which measures 10 meters in height and 300 meters in circumference in the fall of 2018, created a crater-shaped Pink Muhly that resembles Mt. Halla in Jeju Island. At the summit of Oreum, there is a white bell tower that can ring bells in hopes of their own wishes, and when the weather is clear, people can see the sea far away.
Unlike other Pink Muhly on the flat ground, the Pink Muhly of Jeju Herb Dongsan is shaped like a crater, so you can take a more creative photo. Also, big white pampas grass and the golden waves of Stipa fields remind of the swirling waves, and if you take pictures against them, you can take once in a lifetime shot in an exotic and dreamlike atmosphere.
At the top of Pink Muhly Oreum, there is a white bell tower and a small church on top of the Stipa Hill with light green color, so it is fun to compare the two points.