Korea’s four seasons are truly distinctive; spring arrives with bright yellow forsythia flowers (개나리, kanari) along streets and highways. The season often starts out cool and possibly wet. Gradually the trees sprout leaves of various shades of yellowish green, and magnolia and cherry blossoms add white and pale pink along street. Summer is very hot and humid. Monsoon rains begins near the end of June and last until mid to late July, followed by typhoons in August. Summer temperatures can often go over 38°C  and the trees turn green and dark green. Eating a cold watermelon with friends and family on summer nights offers some consolation to the “sauna-like” Korean summer, which generally ends by September, when the evenings become refreshingly cool. Autumn is the most pleasing season of year in Korea. The weather is cooler and dryer, but still pleasantly warm and sunny. As the autumn progresses, the leaves change to yellow and red, and harvesting begins. Fall is the season of Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving. At this time of year, the fragrance of roasting chestnuts fills the streets. Winter is generally very cold and dry. When it snows, the white blanket melts either right away or stay for a few days. The temperature can go lower than -15°C, but cold weather lasts no more than three days and is followed by four days of warmer weather. This cycle is called three-cold-four-warm (삼한사온, Samhansaon) and the cold weather is bearable because the Korean winter is sunshiny and has a bright blue sky.

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The idealisation and representation of time and continuity is also found in the notion of cyclical time in Buddhism. The film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring has a simplified plot about the changing seasons, the passing of time of a year, the finishing and starting a year, and the falling in and out of love. This film uses heavily-embedded Buddhist symbolism and iconography about circulation, infinity and ecology in its setting. Five distinctive and concise parts (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring) correspond to the seasons of the title.

 

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