The Wŏnjŭ Bangi-ri Jigŭngo tree spreads its golden light around, with branches extending 17 meters in all directions from its main trunk. It is said to be 800 years old, according to various websites in South Korea. This tree is considered a national monument and one of the most scenic places in the country.
The way the tree branches out resembles the multitude of trees found on Earth, making it a unique specimen. Many have dubbed it the “most beautiful tree in the world” through social media. This tree can be found in various locations throughout the country.
Korean folklore, particularly from the JoongAng Daily, shares two popular stories about the origin of this tree. One narrative suggests it sprouted during the time of the Silla Dynasty (57-935 AD). Another mythical tale tells of the last prince of the Silla Dynasty, Crown Prince Mau’i, who planted the tree when he embarked on a life of asceticism at Mount Kumgang.
Scientists have been researching the Jigŭngo tree for several decades, aiming to understand how this species grows. A research report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that Jigŭngo trees, aged 600 years or older, are more resilient to any chemical damage compared to younger trees, making them exceptionally well-protected.
Jigŭngo is a gymnosperm (naked seed) native to East Asia, and the first tree of this species was discovered 29 million years ago. It is the last surviving species among Jigŭngo, making it unique in its kind.