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Welcoming Spring Updated: 2012-03-02 00:00:00 KST

It's already March, and spring is in the air. Despite the cold weather, we found a way to usher in the new season.

In the morning, hikers head to the mountains.

They continue to trudge along in the snow

[Interview : Kim Gwan-sik, Village chief
Saneum Village] "The site is 500 or 600 meters above sea level. You have to go another 10 kilometers or so. It takes an hour by car."

500 meters above sea level, the wind is still cold and the roads are frozen with snow and ice.

[Interview : Moon Ju-hwan, Villager] "There's still snow on the mountain, but when you get to the top you can see spring."

At this time of the year, when winter begins to fade away and spring is preparing to bloom, there is something that is ready for harvest.

[Interview : Kim Gwan-sik, Village chief
Saneum Village] "This is a painted maple. We harvest the sap when it runs up and down the trunk, when spring is coming. It's too late when we get to the end of March."

It's none other than the sap from the painted maple.

The sap is characterized with a sweet taste, and is used for medicinal purposes in Korean Oriental medicine.

Each drop is precious.

"If you drill too deep, it'll kill the tree. The hole has to be 3 cm or less."

"You have to drill the hole exactly where the sap is running through the tree. It can't be too deep or too shallow."

The trees must be preserved for next year's harvest, so every hole is drilled with care and skill.

[Interview : ] "We harvest the sap when spring is coming. It's a harbinger of spring."

[Interview : ] "In our village, when spring comes, we harvest painted maple sap, and when we harvest the sap, that's when spring comes."

The sap is normally collected by inserting hoses into two to three holes drilled into trees that are three or four decades old.

[Interview : ] "It was inefficient and time-consuming to tie a bag to each tree to collect the sap, so we created a system that would collect all the sap in one place."

Painted maple sap is lucrative for local farms, and the villagers have developed a more efficient system for collecting it.

Every year in March, the region holds a painted maple festival to promote the benefits of the sap.

[Interview : ] "There are about 70 painted maple trees on Mt. Yongmun."

[Interview : PD
] "And you connect all 70 to collect the sap in one place[Interview : ] "That's right."

The painted maple sap can be drunk or used in various dishes. Chicken broth is one of the most popular choices.

[Interview : Lee Yeong-hui, Villager] "When you use the sap to make chicken broth, the chicken becomes chewy and delicious. You don't need any artificial seasoning, just a pinch of salt."

The sap deepens the taste of the broth.

A meal tastes best after a hard day's work. Today's meal is even better because the food was cooked with painted maple sap, available only at this time of the year.

[Interview : Yoon Dong-gyu, Villager] "We get spring vegetables and painted maple sap in spring. Spring tastes good."

[Interview : Yoon Ok-seon, Villager] "I cook with painted maple sap and drink it often. Maybe that's why I'm such a strong hiker. Everyone thinks I'm younger than I really am."

The highlight of the meal is the broth.

The broth contains all the nutrients of the painted maple sap and the chicken.

[Interview : Ahn Gi-chan, Villager] "It's delicious. The broth is sweet."

[Interview : Moon Ju-hwan, Villager] "You've been to the mountain. The reason we can all still go hiking there is because we get energy from the sap."

There's another way to welcome spring.

Inside this greenhouse, people are ready to greet spring.

[Interview : Kim Ji-hye, Visitor] "I came to experience spring. "

[Interview : Ahn Jun-hyeok, Visitor] "The weather is getting warmer and spring is coming, so we wanted to experience the farms and get some fresh air."

They'll be welcoming spring with strawberries, well-known as a spring fruit. They can pick and taste strawberries firsthand.

Strawberries can be grown year-round in greenhouses, but they're especially popular in spring.

[Interview : Kim Jeong-geum, Farmer] "Strawberries are a spring fruit. When the weather gets warmer, everyone gets a little sleepy. There's nothing like the vitamin C in strawberries to wake you up."

Everyone is busy berrypicking.

[Interview : Lee Hyeon-il, Visitor] "It's convenient because it's near Seoul. This is my first time here, and I love it. The strawberries smell wonderful."

The children are having the most fun, getting to see how strawberries are grown and picking them off their stems. Each spring, strawberry farms are filled with visitors seeking out this experience.

[Interview : Lee Yeong-ran, Visitor] "We get our strawberries from the supermarket, and I wanted to show my kids where and how they are actually grown. My kids are having fun, and I think they'll enjoy strawberries even more now."

For a small fee, visitors can take home all the strawberries they handpick.

So these strawberries taste better than any other.

[Interview : ] "Hello! I like strawberry. Thank you! "

[Interview : Kim Seong-eun, Visitor] "We mostly stayed at home because it was so cold. It's nice to get out and get a taste of spring."

Fresh strawberries meet delicious chocolate for a mouth-watering combination.

[Interview : ] "Isn't it pretty[Interview : Kim Ji-hye, Visitor] "I got to eat to my heart's content. It was a sweet and fun experience."

[Interview : Kim Eun-jeong, Visitor] "The strawberries here are full of the energy and fragrance of spring. They're delicious."

With March comes a new spring. Welcome the new season in a delicious way by getting a taste of the freshest spring fruits and vegetables!
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