The Value of Gurye’s Sansuyu Farming as an Agricultural Heritage

Sansuyu habitats in Sandong-myeon are created with original local method for sustenance in a barren land that lacks farmland. These habitats, which create beautiful scenery harmonized with the surrounding nature, are artificially built in areas between stones and rocks, around town entrance and mountain ridges.

Built with using Sandong-myeon's topography, sansuyu habitat shows how beautiful symbiosis between nature and people are by creating lovely scenery of winding mountain roads, harmoniously gathered houses and low stone walls.

Various herptiles, insects, birds and herbaceous plants growing in sansuyu habitats and on stone walls contribute to forming biological diversity in regions of agricultural heritage. There are traditions of cooperation with towns as units in traditional methods of fertilization, harvest and seed removal. Also, sansuyu farming-related culture is still passed down until today.

GURYE’s Cornus Officinalis Sansuyu Farming
Maintenance and Management Efforts of Gurye’s Sansuyu Farming
2008. 3. 12.
Geographical indication of sansuyu registration (the Forest Service-No.15)
2011. 11. 18.
Ordinance enactment to protect and nurture sansuyu
2011 ~ Ongoing
Residents-led sansuyu preservation movement
2011. 11. 16.
Designation as special zone for sansuyu industry
2013. 12. 24.
Designation as the first Important Agricultural Heritage of Jeollanam-do Province
2014. 06. 30.
Designation as the third Korea Important Agricultural Heritage System
2015. 05 ~ Ongoing
Comprehensive plans for maintenance and management of Gurye’s sansuyu farming
2014. ~ 2017.
Business utilizing pluralistic resources by Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in progress
2015. 06 ~ Ongoing
Local expert system of Gurye’s sansuyu farming management
2015. ~ Ongoing
Development and management of sansuyu traditional farming model town (scheduled)
Farming Fund management for sansuyu farming (scheduled)
2015. ~ 2017.
Preparing for registration as FAO Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) (scheduled)
Origins of Sansuyu Habitats
It is said that the name Sandong-myeon came from Shandong Province, China, the home of the girl who moved to Jirisan Mountain upon her marriage and brought the first sansuyu tree 1,000 years ago. There are written records in Sanrimgyeongje (Forestry Economy) and Seungjeongwon Ilgi (The Diaries of the Royal Secretariat) that Gurye’s cornus fruits were cultivated as special products of the region.

Gurye’s sansuyu farming started when Sandong-myeon inhabitants started to plant cornus fruits as medicinal crops artificially in areas between stones and rocks, around town entrance and mountain ridges for sustenance in an unfavorable topographical environment which lacks farmland and suitable weather. There is a thousand-year-old sansuyu tree which was planted in Korea for the first time in Gyecheok Village, Sandong-myeon. Local residents call it 'the Grandmother Tree'.
Stone walls and Cornus Officinalis habitat

Stone walls and Cornus Officinalis habitat

'The Grandmother Tree' in Gyecheok Village

'The Grandmother Tree' in Gyecheok Village

Harvesting rituals
Agricultural Heritage and Culture

Sandong-aega is a labor song sung by women of Sandong Village. It was originally sung by a nineteen-year-old girl named Baek Bujeon of Sanggwan Village who was taken to be shot to death instead of her older brother in the Yeosu·Soonchun Incident of 1948. Afterwards, the song was passed down as a labor song between women of Sandong Village and was sung during the cornus fruit harvest season in late autumn and the seed separation in winter.

Cornus officinalis flowers bloom when farming period begins, and an ancestral ritual for the abundant harvest is performed every year in the first cornus officinalis habitat in Gyecheok Village. For cornus officinalis related foodstuff, ways to brew cornus fruit tea and cornus fruit wine are passed down in the region.

The Knowledge System and Technology of Sansuyu Farming
: Agriculture environment apt for sansuyu farming
- Alluvial fan influenced by Seomjingang River
- Rich organic soil with good permeability, nutrient-holding capacity and moisture-holding ability
- 2,124 hours of abundant sunshine per year that enable the production of cornus fruits with rich color
- Advantage in producing cornus fruits with excellent taste and qualities with less amount of rainfall after September when the quality of crops are determined
: Agriculture environment apt for sansuyu farming




Separating seeds

Separating seeds



Shallow-rooted tree species such as sansuyu are sensitive in nutrient factors like composts. Residents of Sandong-myeon were able to harvest good quality sansuyu by using animal manure like cow manures to manage fertilization by using traditional method of pouring one bucket(Hapssutong) of fertilizer per tree and allowing manures to permeate down the soil through the winter.

Cornus fruits should be harvested before the end of September and were traditionally harvested by spreading a straw mat on the ground and shaking the tree. Otherwise the fruits can be picked by hand from a tree. The fruits are half dried in the sun or in ondol room which is room with the Korean floor heating system for 3 to 4 days. Dried cornus fruits of Gurye are shiny and red with more flesh and sour flavor.

The work of separating flesh and seed were done in winter by piling up the fruit on the table and peeling the fruit with front teeth one by one with a bowl held under the chin. The job was usually done by children and women. so it is said that it was easy to distinguish girls from Sandong village because their front teeth were worn out from participating in the job from young age. Sansuyu farming was a tough job because it had to be harvested and dried almost by hand.
Brown-eared Bullbul eating Cornus fruits seeds
Functioning Ecosystem with Biodiversity Various insects, birds

Various insects, birds and herbivores live around Jirisan Mountain, the national park area, and sansuyu habitats. Especially for wild flowers, there are 1,526 species which takes about 30% of native plant species growing in the Korean Peninsula.

Sansuyu habitats function as an axis of ecocycle, which connects forests and settlement areas, and stone walls of sansuyu habitats fit the condition of inhabitation for various insects and herptiles. Around cornus fruit trees, birds that feeds on cornus fruits can be observed.

Scenic Value of Agricultural Heritage
Sansuyu habitats of Sandong-myeon create magnificent spectacles of yellow and red, yellow in spring and red in autumn when the trees bear cornus fruits. Bangok Village especially holds the limelight every spring as an essential route for photographers for its beautiful scenery of rocky valley that goes through the town harmonized with sansuyu flowers.
Sansuyu Flower Festival (spring) and Sansuyu Fruit Festival (autumn) are held every year, using the remarkable landscape value of sansuyu habitats.
Complex landscape of Cornus officinalis habitat

Complex landscape of Sansuyu habitat