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Koreans, Chinese plant trees to fight fine dust

Apr 09,2019
이미지뷰
Students plant tree saplings on Arbor Day on April 5. The event, hosted by the Seoul Global Center and the Seoul Volunteer Center, was participated in by 36 Chinese exchange students and 26 Korean college students. [KO SEOK-HYUN]
Chinese exchange students and Korean college students planted tree saplings hand-in-hand on Arbor Day in Noeul Park in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, to help contain Korea’s fine dust problem.

At the event last Friday, a total of 62 students planted saplings at the former landfill-turned-park. This event was hosted by the Seoul Global Center and the Seoul Volunteer Center, which recruited participants through advertisements.

“I saw a news headline that said China is at fault for Korea’s fine dust,” said Jing Chen, a 25-year-old Inha University student. “But because I don’t have any professional knowledge on this matter, I hope the tree-planting can help Korea.

“Instead of finding fault in others, I want both countries to find a solution to fine dust together,” Jing added.

She shared that over the past few days, she had trouble breathing because of the hazardous fine dust. This is Jing’s fourth year living in Korea and her second time participating in the tree-planting event.

At 2 p.m. on Friday, the parking lot was filled with people who came to plant seedlings. Companies such as Pulmuone, LG U+ and Boston Scientific came to contribute to the cause.

“About 170 people from companies and organizations visited [the park] today,” said Kang Duk-hee, the president of a civic organization that supports Noeul Park. “In addition to last year, a huge amount of companies and organizations are asking to participate in [tree planting]. Last year, about 6,000 people planted 20,000 saplings.”

This year, about 28,000 people participated, a huge jump over last year.

The tree-planting event that was hosted by the two volunteer centers had participants of 36 Chinese exchange students and 26 Korean college students.

Since last year, the center has cooperated with a volunteer center in Beijing and hosted planting events in each country. Last year, they hosted an event in Beijing on March 21 and another in Seoul on April 5.

Because the park used to be a landfill, its soil lacks moisture as it lies on top of piles of trash. Students were greeted by flies and trash when they dug holes to plant trees. The weather that day was especially windy, so the newly-planted trees kept falling down. The event ended in an hour, after the 70 seedlings the center prepared were all planted.

The Chinese students expressed their satisfaction with their experience.

“I am growing three trees through [mobile game] Alipay’s Ant Forest,” said a Chinese exchange student. “But my experience planting trees in real life shows that it is different than playing games and is not as easy.”

BY JUNG MYUNG-SUK, KO SEOK-HYUN AND KIM NA-HYUN [jung.myungsuk@joongang.co.kr]