Page:The passing of Korea.djvu/34

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Korean esteem. As the pine was the dynastic symbol of Koryu, 918-1392, so the plum-tree is the symbol of this present dynasty. It was chosen because the Chinese character for plum is the same as that of the family name of the reigning house. It was for this cogent reason that the last king of the Koryu dynasty planted plum-trees on the prophetic site of the present capital, and then destroyed them all, hoping thereby to blight the prospects of the Yi family, who, prophecy declared, would become masters of the land.

There are many hard woods in Korea that are used in the arts and industries of the people. Oak, ginko, elm, beech and other species are found in considerable numbers, but the best cabinet woods are imported from China. An important tree, found mostly in the southern provinces, is the paper-mulberry, broussonetai papyrifcra, the inner bark of which is used exclusively in making the tough paper used by Koreans in almost every branch of life. It is celebrated beyond the borders of the peninsula, and for centuries formed an important item in the annual tribute to China and in the official exchange of goods with Japan. It is intrinsically the same as the superb Japanese paper, though of late years the Japanese have far surpassed the Koreans in its manufacture. The cedar is not uncommon in the country, but its wood is used almost exclusively for incense in the Buddhist monasteries. Box-wood is used for making seals and in the finer processes of the xylographic art, but for this latter purpose pear-wood is most commonly substituted.

Korea is richly endowed with fruits of almost every kind common to the temperate zone, with the exception of the apple. Persimmons take a leading place, for this is the one fruit that grows to greater perfection in this country than in any other place. They grow to the size of an ordinary apple, and after the frost has touched them they are a delicacy that might be sought for in vain on the tables of royalty in the West. The apricot, while of good flavour, is smaller than the European