Greening Mt. Mudung One Tree at a Time"Forty-five years have passed since I devoted myself to taking care of these trees. The trees covering Mt.Mudung are my sons and daughters."
Chin Jae-ryang(77), a long-time resident of Kwangju, has dedicated his life to the trees of Mt. Mudung. His love for these trees that blanket one of the more picturesque areas of Southern Cholla Province is a legacy he has handed down to sons and their children. It has been the family's predominating force.
Chin, a former middle school teacher, went to to Japan in 1995 for research and was astounded by the thriving forests he saw there, and this became the spark for his passion for trees.
Upon his return, Chin saw trees as not only a possible source of income but also of benefit to society in general. He promptly left his post at school, and purchased a large plot of land on foothills of Mt.Mudung from the proceeds of a chicken farm.
At the start, Chin could only see bare mountainsides, the remaining vestiges of the Korean War and years of neglect. With the help of his three sons, Chin has been steadily re-blanketing with wide variety of tree species including japanese cedars. These trees in particular gave Shin and his family quite a struggle raising them. But, the efforts are plainly visible with trees as far as the eye can see.
In order to better care for their "children", the eldest son Chun-ho(48) and second son Sok-ho(46) majored in forestry and forest management while attending university readying themselves to take on their father's mantle. The youngest son Dal-ho(43) attended a technical college to help smooth cultivation and lessen any impact on the forests.
So far, profits garnered from the selling of trees have been used in further land development and increasing the variety of species like black oaks and poplars. They have planted and raised an estimated 360,000 trees during the past 45 years and currently are the custodians of forests covering over 6.6 million square meter. With a resort to run and a shitake mushroom farm in the works, the family is understandably very busy. This, however is all overshadowed by Mr. Chin hopes to leave behind as a legacy peaceful forests and clean air to his descendants and their descendants.
by Park Hyun-young