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J. People Plants Environ > Volume 23(1); 2020 > Article
Kim, Park, and Choi: Analysis of Designation and Symbolic Meanings of Floral Emblems in South Korea as Elements of Garden Tourism and Design

ABSTRACT

This study was conducted to analyze the current state and symbolic meanings of floral emblem designation in local governments of South Korea. The scope of local governments subject to analysis was limited to special city, metropolitan city, province, self-governing province, city, self-governing city, county and district based on their administrative divisions. The floral emblems of local governments and their symbolic meanings as of 2019 were examined. A total of 44 plant species were designated as floral emblems. Many plant species with high designation frequency were included in Rhododendron spp., Rosa spp., Camellia spp., Magnolia spp., and Prunus spp.. Plant species with higher designation frequency tended to have more symbolic meanings. A total of 155 terms were used for the symbolic meanings assigned to all the designated floral emblems. The major symbolic meanings were relevant to material affluence or economic growth, community spirit, and personality generally required from local residents. Most of the plant species linked to the top 10 most frequently assigned terms in symbolic meaning were those of the top 10 most frequently designated floral emblems. In the case of floral emblems with high designation frequency, it was shown that they were linked with various symbolic meanings in order to grant identity with regional distinctiveness and differentiation, regardless of the symbolic meaning that the designated flowers generally have. However, the floral emblems with low designation frequency seem to have relatively strong physical or emotional relevance with local governments and thus are expected to have high utilization in regional branding and tourism marketing.

Introduction

Gardens, which have long provided the beauty of nature and recreation for people, have now become major tourist sites. For example, the Suncheonman National Garden opened in 2014 after hosting the Suncheon Bay Garden EXPO 2013. The total number of visitors in 2017 was 6,117,633 persons (6,098,849 natives and 18,784 foreigners), which is remarkably higher than historic sites such as Naganeupseong Walled Town, Songgwangsa Temple, and Seonamsa Temple in Suncheon (Kim and Huh, 2019; Korean Statistical Information Service. 2019). Wyse Jackson and Sutherland (2000) reported that the number of visitors in public gardens worldwide was 150 million as of 2000, and Benfield (2013) estimated that the number of visitors who visited private gardens through open houses operated by institutes such as the Garden Conservancy (USA) and National Gardens Scheme (UK and Australia) and the number of visitors in gardens run by nonprofit organizations like the National Trust (UK) add up to approximately 300 million. As such, many people are enjoying garden tourism both locally and globally, but there is insufficient research on garden tourism and its importance is not receiving attention even in tourism, which is the world’s biggest industry (Benfield, 2013; Connell, 2004).
Flowers, a major component of gardens, is a symbol of beauty that is constantly been perceived as an aesthetic object throughout the history of humanity, and it is one of the motifs most frequently used in formative arts (Chang, 2016). For a long time, flowers have been a symbol or an icon that expresses various emotions and represents physical and psychological state. Thus, flower designers sublimate or commercialize the beauty and symbolism of flowers into art, provide education to the community, present floral designs in flower shows, weddings and funerals, and use them in horticultural therapy (Chu et al., 2018). In the South Korean design industry, to not only inherit and develop traditional culture but also lead to development of the tourism industry by promoting the originality and excellence of South Korean culture, there has been constant research on design development using traditional floral patterns such as plum blossom, peony, and lotus flower (Chang, 2016; Hong and Kim, 2011; Jung, 2004; Kim, 2009; Song, 2010). Moreover, many countries in the world are designating floral emblems representing the national or regional characteristics and sentiments, which contribute to regional branding and commercialization of tourism resources. The traditional wreath called ‘Lei’ in Hawaii, a world-renowned tourist site, has a regional meaning depending on the type of flower, and it is known to be a case that has performed an effective role in the tourism industry by applying the culture of presenting the lei to visitors (Bird et al., 1987; Criley, 1992). In South Africa, bird of paradise flower is used to represent the identity of a new nation that integrated multiple ethnicities, and it is perceived as the best icon of tourism advertising for South Africa (Benfield, 2013).
Through a case study on fashionable culture, Goss (1993) suggested that the prominent leisure activities in the modern lifestyle are visiting malls or going shopping, whereas the prominent symbol of attachment is flowers. Ziegler (2007) studied the traces of the changing tastes and traditions in the floricultural culture and industry in the sociological view, discussed the role of flowers in terms of joy, social status and creation of the sense of belonging, and led to the conclusion that one of the sources of various horticultural activities widely in fashion today is creation of identity. In sum, designating a flower as a national or regional symbol can help its members perceive the important symbolic meaning, give them an identity, and cultivate community spirit. Furthermore, floral emblem designation may bring economic benefits to the national and regional community as an element of garden tourism or design. Therefore, this study is conducted to expand the scope of floral emblem designation and use that can increase regional competitiveness by analyzing the current state of floral emblem designation in South Korean local governments and their symbolic meaning, and to provide basic data to come up with designs that reflect regional identity and commercialize the emblems for tourism.

Research Methods

Research perspectives

Flowers have a symbolic meaning formed in history and culture along with the external beauty that physically shows, and are used in many countries as a national or regional symbol. Floral emblem designation and symbolic meaning can be understood through the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus L.), which is the flower that symbolizes South Korea. A national symbol is described as an official symbol represented by images, texts or figures that are distinctive, differentiated and relatable to promote the consistent national identity to the global society while also having citizens perceive a unified national identity and cultivate community spirit. The South Korean national symbols include Taegeukgi (national flag), Aegukga (national anthem), rose of Sharon (national flower), great seal (seal of state), national emblem, etc. The rose of Sharon, which has been loved in South Korean gardens for a long time, indicates an “eternal blossom that never fades”. Due to its meaning and emotional communion, it is designated as the national flower that symbolizes the toughness of our people that have overcome foreign invasion due to its geographical position of a peninsula (Ministry of the Interior and Safety, 2019). South Africa designated king protea (Protea cynaroides) as the national flower in 1976, but later, the bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) was used to newly depict the nature of the nation that integrated multiple ethnicities, and it is now perceived as an icon that appears more frequently in the tourism advertisements in South Africa (Benfield, 2013). Based on the context of these cases, research on floral emblem designation and analysis of symbolic meaning is premised on the two following perspectives. First, like the case of the rose of Sharon, the species that has formed the perception of beauty connected to history and culture and that has formed intimate sentiment among flowers that have inhabited the region for a long time as native species is first designated as the floral emblem, after which it is given the symbolic meaning. Second, like the case of the bird of paradise flower, the symbolic meaning that coincides with the goal, identity and community spirit pursued by the local government is first selected, after which the suitable plant species is chosen.
From the first perspective, we investigated the frequency of plants designated as floral emblems by the local governments, assessed the preference tendency and rarity, and analyzed the symbolic meaning given in the process of floral emblem designation for plant species with high designation frequency. From the second perspective, we investigated the frequency of the symbolic meaning given to the floral emblem, assessed the preference tendency and specificity of the symbol, and analyzed the plant species assigned to the symbolic meaning with high frequency. Through the results of analysis in these two aspects, we comprehensively assessed floral emblem designation and symbolic meaning.

Survey and analysis

South Korean local governments are divided largely into 17 provincial-level administrative divisions such as Seoul special city, Sejong special self-governing city, eight provinces (Gangwon-do, Gyeonggi-do, Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do), six metropolitan cities (Incheon, Daejeon, Daegu, Ulsan, Gwangju, Busan), and Jeju special self-governing province. More specifically, they are subdivided into municipal-level administrative divisions such as cities (si), counties (gun), and districts (gu). Most provinces, cities, counties and districts have designated symbolic flowers. Thus, the subjects of this study was limited to the provincial-level administrative divisions and the municipal-level administrative divisions, and the current state of floral emblem designation in total 245 local governments was investigated. Data was collected from November 20, 2018 to June 8, 2019 through the website of each local government and phone interviews with the relevant staff. Frequency analysis was conducted on the collected data with focus on whether a floral emblem is designated in each administrative division, the designated plant species, and its symbolic meaning. Even though the floral emblem is designated in the provincial-level administrative division, a separate floral emblem is designated again in the municipal-level administrative division. Thus, the floral emblem designation frequency was calculated independently in all local governments regardless of the hierarchy of the administrative division. To discuss from the first research perspective, we analyzed the types of plants designated as the floral emblems as well as the frequency, after which we analyzed the symbolic meanings given to the top 10 plant species in designation frequency. To discuss from the second research perspective, we drew terms used as the symbolic meanings of the floral emblems and conducted a frequency analysis, after which we analyzed the plant species assigned to the top 10 terms, and comprehensively discussed the results in the two aspects.

Results and Discussion

The total floral emblem designation rate of the 245 local governments examined in this study was 97.6%, indicating that most local governments were designating their own floral emblems in general (Table 1). However, the floral emblem designation rate of Daejeon metropolitan city was 33.3%, which was remarkably lower than other local governments. The floral emblem designation rates of Incheon metropolitan city, Busan metropolitan city, and Gyeonggi-do province were 90.9%, 94.1% and 93.8% respectively, showing that some local governments in the administrative divisions did not designate floral emblems. The floral emblem designation rates of Chungcheongbuk-do province and Jeollanam-do province were 108.3% and 104.3% respectively, indicating that some local governments in the administrative divisions designated two or more floral emblems.
Seoul special city, the capital of South Korea, was designating floral emblems, and 25 districts in the administrative division were independently designating floral emblems. However, 12 types of flowers were designated as floral emblems, indicating that local governments were designating the same plant species as the floral emblems. Incheon metropolitan city and Gyeonggi-do province in the capital area also showed a similar tendency. Jeju special self-governing province showed a 100% floral emblem designation rate, and in total three local governments (Jeju special self-governing province in the provincial-level and two cities in the municipal-level administrative division), there were three types of flowers designated as the floral emblems, thereby not overlapped. Sejong special self-governing city was designating one floral emblem. Among the metropolitan cities, Busan metropolitan city had 10 types of plants designated as the floral emblems, showing the greatest variety, and among the provinces, Jeollanam-do province, Gyeongsangbuk-do province, and Gyeongsangnam-do province had 13 types, showing the greatest variety of plants. The types of plants designated as floral emblems were more diverse in the southern region than the central region, due to the climatic features and extensive flora of the southern region where not only temperate plants but also warm temperate plants can grow.
Total 44 plant species were designated by the local governments as their floral emblems as shown in Table 2, which did not include rose of Sharon, the national flower of South Korea. The plant species of floral emblems with high designation frequency were mostly flowering trees or shrubs, including Rhododendron spp., Rosa spp., Camellia spp., Magnolia spp., Prunus spp., etc. They were plant species popular worldwide and thus easily found in botanical gardens or parks in not only South Korea but also overseas. Among them, Rhododendron spp., Camellia spp., Magnolia spp., and Prunus spp. are known as plant species that are produced extensively as landscaping materials in South Korea (Korea Forest Service, 2007). On the other hand, plant species of floral emblems with low designation frequency included relatively more perennial herbaceous flowering plants. The designation rates of the top 5 species such as Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. (17.4%), Forsythia koreana Nakai. (13.0%), Camellia japonica L. (8.9%), Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz. (7.7%), and Rosa hybrida Hort. (7.3%) added up to 54.3%, indicating that floral emblem designation was concentrated in certain plant species. This result is similar to that of previous research in which city flower designation was concentrated in Forsythia koreana Nakai., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Camellia japonica L., and Rosa hybrida Hort. (Rho, 1998).
In particular, Forsythia koreana Nakai. and Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., the native habitat of which is South Korea, showed the second-highest and fourth-highest designation frequency respectively. Forsythia koreana Nakai. and Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz. are flowering shrubs that grow in various places of South Korea in spring, and they are native plants that have provided deep emotional connection throughout the history and culture of South Korea, which is why many local governments have designated them as the floral emblems. Bang and Lee (1995) who analyzed the plantation distribution of landscaping trees in South Korea also proved that Forsythia koreana Nakai. and Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz. showed extensive plantation distribution. Moreover, Camellia japonica L. is a flowering tree that grow only in the southern region but not in the central region of South Korea, and its flowers create the exotic and unique landscape of the southern region, which is why many local governments in the southern region have designated Camellia japonica L. as the floral emblem to differentiate themselves from the central region.
Floral emblems with low designation frequency tended to show relatively high physical/emotional correlation with local governments. Yeongdeok-gun county, where peach is its regional specialty, designated Prunus persica L. as the floral emblem, whereas Cheongsong-gun county that is a famous apple producer designated Malus pumila Miller as the floral emblem, which shows the correlation between floral emblem designation and regional specialty. Moreover, Abeliophyllum distichum Nakai, which is a world-renowned rare plant that naturally grows only in South Korea, was designated as the floral emblem of Goesan-gun county where the plant was first discovered. Pulsatilla tongkangensis Y.N. Lee & T.C. Lee (Donggang pasqueflower) was designated as the floral emblem of Jeongseon-gun county, which is its native habitat. Jeongseon-gun county not only designated Pulsatilla tongkangensis Y.N. Lee & T.C. Lee as its floral emblem but also designated the Donggang Pasqueflower Village, hosting the Jeongseon Donggang Pasqueflower Festival at the end of March every year (Jeongseon, 2019). These cases prove the strong connectivity between floral emblems and regional characteristics.
As a result of analyzing the symbolic meanings given to the plant species with the top 10 highest designation frequency to analyze the symbolic meanings of floral emblems, it was found that 40 symbolic meanings were given to Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., at least 20 meanings to Forsythia koreana Nakai., Camellia japonica L., Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rosa hybrida Hort., and Magnolia kobus DC., and at least 10 to other plant species. Plant species with higher designation frequency tended to have more symbolic meanings (Table 3). Compared to the fact that each flower generally has 2–5 commonly used languages of flowers, there were extremely diverse symbolic meanings given to the plant species with the top 10 highest floral emblem designation frequency. Most floral emblems were given at least 2 symbolic meanings, and a comparison of symbolic meanings given by multiple local governments to the same floral emblem shows that not only the same or similar terms but also special and distinctive terms were used. This result can be analyzed in line with the argument by Ziegler (2007) that “creation of identity is an activity fundamental to several of today’s widespread flower practices”. In terms of establishing an identity distinguished from other regions and giving the sense of belonging or homogeneity, even if the members of the community agreed to designate the universally preferred plants such as Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Forsythia koreana Nakai., Rosa hybrida Hort., and Camellia japonica L. as the floral emblems, it seems that differentiated identity is attempted to be given to those plants in terms of symbolic meaning. This indicates that, since the same plant species can be perceived with different emotions, symbolic meanings of floral emblems are used to establish an identity among regions with diverse historical and cultural backgrounds.
Regarding the symbolic meanings of floral emblems, some local governments have given symbolic meanings with commonly used floriography to the flowers designated as the floral emblems, while others have given symbolic meanings with special historical/cultural sentiments or pursued values regardless of floriography. Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. was given 40 symbolic meanings, which was the biggest number, and ‘joy’ and ‘passion’ were equivalent or similar to the widely used floriography, whereas ‘prosperity’, ‘richness’, ‘local patriotism’, and ‘citizenship’ were values pursued by the local governments. Other emotional meanings seemed to have reflected the special historical/cultural sentiments of the region. Rosa hybrida Hort. was given 25 symbolic meanings, which was approximately 50% lower than Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., and the meanings were mostly equivalent or similar to the widely used floriography, while some local governments gave symbolic meanings of ‘prosperity’, ‘local patriotism’, ‘development’, and ‘concord’. Among the symbolic meanings of Camellia japonica L., ‘sea’ seems to be correlated with the distinctive marine landscape of the southern Korean region, which is the habitat of Camellia japonica L. Symbolic meanings such as ‘iron hand in a velvet glove’ given to Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., ‘fidelity’ and ‘Seonbijeongsin (Korean traditional scholar spirit)’ given to Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc., and ‘ethnicity’ given to Pyrus serotina Rehder showed correlation to historical/cultural sentiments.
Total 155 terms were used as symbolic meanings of floral emblems, with ‘prosperity’ showing the highest frequency (23 times), followed by ‘cohesion’ and ‘combination’ (Table 4). Major terms used as symbolic meanings were related to material affluence and economic aspects such as ‘prosperity’, ‘development’, ‘exuberancy’, ‘richness’, and ‘growth’; local community spirit such as ‘cohesion’, ‘combination’, ‘cooperation’, ‘citizenship’, and ‘local patriotism’; and personality generally required from local residents such as ‘love’, ‘patience’, ‘hope’, and ‘peace’. Terms such as ‘Bulgap mountain’, ‘herbal town’, ‘first discovered’, ‘the first plantation’, ‘beach’, ‘thermal water’, and ‘mountain filled with azalea’ represented symbolic meanings that are strongly connected to the regional landscapes or features. Moreover, terms that represented the traditional value system or Confucian ideas of Korea such as ‘Seonbijeongsin (Korean traditional scholar spirit)’ or ‘friends of Korean traditional scholar’ were also used as symbolic meanings.
Table 5 shows the plant species associated with the terms with the top 10 frequency in symbolic meanings, most of which were plant species included in the top 10 floral emblem designation frequency (Tables 2 and 3). ‘Prosperity’ was associated with 9 plant species, and seven of them excluding Kerria japonica (L.) DC. and Lilium tigrinum Ker-Gawl. were included in the ones with the top 10 floral emblem designation frequency. ‘Cohesion’ was associated with 10 plant species, among which Forsythia koreana Nakai., Magnolia kobus DC., Pyrus serotina Rehder, and Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. were the plant species included among the top 10 designation frequency. ‘fidelity’, ‘noble’, and ‘peace’ that were among the top 10 frequency in symbolic meanings also showed a similar tendency. This result is consistent with the results that local governments designated plant species with high historical/ cultural intimacy as the floral emblems (Table 2), that the symbolic meanings given to the floral emblems were more associated with various terms that reveal the differentiated identity of the local governments than the common floriography (Table 3), and that the symbolic meanings related to regional economy, local community spirit, and personality required from local residents were highly perceived (Table 4).

Conclusion

As a symbol or an icon designated by the national or regional community, floral emblems can not only provide members with an identity through important symbolic meanings and cultivate community spirit, but also bring economic benefits to the national and local governments as a component of tourism or design. This study was conducted to analyze the current state of floral emblem designation in the South Korean local governments as well as the symbolic meanings as part of research to promote floral emblem designation and utilization. In general, most local governments in South Korea had designated floral emblems. Total 44 plant species were designated as floral emblems, and these did not include rose of Sharon, which is the national flower of South Korea. Most plant species used as floral emblems with high designation frequency were flowering trees or shrubs, and the ones with high frequency were Rhododendron spp., Rosa spp., Camellia spp., Magnolia spp., and Prunus spp. As a result of analyzing the symbolic meanings given to the plant species with top 10 designation frequency, it was found that each plant species had at minimum 11 to maximum 40 symbolic meanings, and the plant species with higher designation frequency tended to have more symbolic meanings. This result is due to the fact that, even if the same plant species is designated as the floral emblem, each local government used special, differentiated terms as the symbolic meaning. Many symbolic meanings of the floral emblems were historical/ cultural sentiments or terms that reflected the values pursued by the local governments such as ‘prosperity’, ‘richness’, ‘local patriotism’, and ‘citizenship’ rather than the generally used floriography. Total 155 terms were used as symbolic meanings of floral emblems, with ‘prosperity’, ‘cohesion’, and combination’ showing high frequency. Most plant species connected to the terms with top 10 frequency in symbolic meanings were the ones included in the top 10 floral emblem designation frequency.
The following summarizes the results of analyzing the symbolic meanings given to the plant species with high floral emblem designation frequency and the plant species assigned to the symbolic meanings that showed high frequency based on the two perspectives presented in the research methods. First, floral emblem designation frequency was high in plant species with high historical/cultural intimacy, and the symbolic meanings given to plant species showed high frequency in terms related to regional economic growth, cultivation of local community spirit, and personality required from local residents rather than floriography that is commonly perceived as the image of the plant itself. Moreover, various terms were connected to consciously reflect the goal or identity pursued by the local governments. As such, without sufficiently publicizing the diverse symbolic meanings given to the same plant species depending on the region, it is unlikely for the members of the community to perceive the specificity and distinction of the floral emblem and to give identity through the floral emblem. Thus, it is necessary to actively publicize the floral emblems to promote the awareness of the local residents. Second, floral emblems with low designation frequency tended to have relatively strong physical/emotional correlation with the local governments, and thus are expected to have high utilization in regional branding and tourism marketing. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a rational designation process and seek efficient utilization plans so that floral emblems can adequately reflect the regional characteristics and values pursued by the local governments.
This study can be used as the basic data when the local governments host festivals or exhibitions in flower themes for garden tourism, in the design industry such as symbols, icons and sculptures reflecting the symbolic meanings of the floral emblems, or when the floral emblems are newly designated with change in the administrative division. Since the scope of this research is limited to the investigation and analysis of the current state of floral emblem designation by the local governments as well as symbolic meanings, there were limitations in that more concrete research could not be conducted on the perception of the members of the community about the floral emblems, or their social and cultural use. It is necessary to conduct further studies on use of floral emblems and perception of local residents in tourism and the design industry.

Notes

This work was supported by Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology Grant in 2018-2019.

Table 1
Floral emblem designation in the local governments of South Korea
Provincial-level administrative divisions Municipal-level administrative divisionsz Number of administrative divisionsy Floral emblem designation frequency Floral emblem designation ratex (%) Number of plant species designated as floral emblem
Seoul special city 25 districts 26 26 100.0 12
Incheon metropolitan city 8 districts
2 counties
11 10 90.9 6
Daejeon metropolitan city 5 districts 6 2 33.3 2
Gwangju metropolitan city 5 districts 6 6 100.0 3
Daegu metropolitan city 7 districts
1 county
9 9 100.0 7
Ulsan metropolitan city 4 districts
1 county
6 6 100.0 5
Busan metropolitan city 15 districts
1 county
17 16 94.1 10
Sejong special self-governing city - 1 1 100.0 1
Gyeonggi-do province 28 cities
3 counties
32 30 93.8 12
Gangwon-do province 7 cities
11 counties
19 19 100.0 11
Chungcheongbuk-do province 3 cities
8 counties
12 13 108.3 8
Chungcheongnam-do province 8 cities
7 counties
16 16 100.0 8
Jeollabuk-do province 6 cities
8 counties
15 15 100.0 7
Jeollanam-do province 5 cities
17 counties
23 24 104.3 13
Gyeongsangbuk-do province 10 cities
13 counties
24 24 100.0 13
Gyeongsangnam-do province 8 cities
10 counties
19 19 100.0 13
Jeju special self-governing province 2 cities 3 3 100.0 3

Total 245 239 97.6

z Provincial-level administrative divisions are subdivided into municipal-level administrative divisions including cities (si), counties (gun), and districts (gu).

y Number of administrative divisions is calculated as the total sum of the number of provincial-level and municipal-level administrative divisions.

x Floral emblem designation rate is calculated by (floral emblem designation frequency/number of administrative divisions)×100.

Table 2
Plant species ranks based on floral emblem designation frequency
Rank Plant species designated as floral emblem Administrative division Frequency Percentage (%)
1 Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. Boseong-gun, Buan-gun, Busan Buk-gu, Busanjin-gu, Cheolwon-gun, Cheongdo-gun, Cheongyang-gun, Daegu Dong-gu, Danyang-gun, Gangwon-do, Gokseong-gun, Goryeong-gun, Guri-si, Gurye-gun, Gwacheon-si, Gwanak-gu, Gwangju Dong-gu, Gwangju metropolitan city, Gwangju Nam-gu, Gyeryong-si, Hadong-gun, Hamyang-gun, Incheon Dong-gu, Incheon Jung-gu, Inje-gun, Jinan-gun, Jongro-gu, Milyang-si, Muju-gun, Mungyeong-si, Namwon-si, Pyeongchang-gun, Sacheon-si, Samcheok-si, Sasang-gu, Seongnam-si, Suncheon-si, Uijeongbu-si, Uiwang-si, Wanju-gun, Yeongju-si, Yeongwol-gun, Youngin-si 43 17.4
2 Forsythia koreana Nakai. Anseong-si, Anyang-si, Boeun-gun, Cheonan-si, Chuncheon-si, Daegu Nam-gu, Eumseong-gun, Gapyeong-gun, Geochang-gun, Gongju-si, Gumi-si, Gunwi-gun, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, Gyeongju-si, Heungseong-gun, Imsil-gun, Incheon Namdong-gu, Jecheon-si, Jeonju-si, Kimpo-si, Namyangju-si, Nonsan-si, Okcheon-gun, Seongdong-gu, Seongju-gun, Seoul special city, Songpa-gu, Yangju-si, Yeoju-si, Yeoncheon-gun, Yesan-gun 32 13.0
3 Camellia japonica L. Boryeong-si, Busan Jung-gu, Busan metropolitan city, Gangjin-gun, Geoje-si, Gochang-gun, Goheung-gun, Gunsan-si, Gwangyang-si, Haenam-gun, Haeundae-gu, Jeollanam-do, Jindo-gun, Seocheon-gun, Taean-gun, Tongyeong-si, Ulleung-gun, Ulsan Dong-gu, Ulsan Jung-gu, Wando-gun, Yeongdo-gu, Yeosu-si 22 8.9
4 Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz. Daegu Seo-gu, Dangjin-si, Gangbuk-gu, Ganghwa-gun, Geumcheon-gu, Geumjeong-gu, Gijang-gun, Gwangjin-gu, Gyeyang-gu, Hongcheon-gun, Hwacheon-gun, Icheon-si, Jangheung-gun, Seongbuk-gu, Suwon-si, Uiryeong-gun, Yangpyeong-gun, Yeongdong-gun, Yeonsu-gu 19 7.7
5 Rosa hybrida Hort. Ansan-si, Dalseo-gu, Goyang-si, Gwangmyeong-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, Incheon metropolitan city, Jincheon-gun, Pohang-si, Saha-gu, Sangju-si, Seocho-gu, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Jung-gu, Suseong-gu, Ulsan metropolitan city, Wonju-si, Yeongcheon-si, Yongsan-gu 18 7.3
6 Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram. Bupyeong-gu, Changyeong-gun, Cheongcheongnam-do, Chungju-si, Dongjak-gu, Gangseo-gu, Goseong-gun, Gujung-gu, Iksan-si, Incheon Seo-gu, Muan-gun, Seosan-si, Sokcho-si 13 5.3
7 Magnolia kobus DC. Asan-si, Busan Nam-gu, Busan Seo-gu, Daegu metropolitan city, Dongdaemun-gu, Gangnam-gu, Guro-gu, Gwangju Seo-gu, Gwangsan-gu, Gyeongsan-si, Mapo-gu, Yangsan-si, Yecheon-gun, Yeongdeungpo-gu 14 5.7
8 Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc. Andong-si, Chilgok-gun, Damyang-gun, Donghae-si, Dongrae-gu, Gangdong-gu, Hapcheon-gun, Kimhae-si, Osan-si, Uljin-gun, Yeongam-gun 11 4.5
9 Zininia elegans Jacq. Daegu Jung-gu, Gwangju Buk-gu, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Haman-gun, Jeollabuk-do, Kimje-si 6 2.4
10 Magnolia denudata Desroux. Cheongju-si, Chungcheongbuk-do, Daejeon metropolitan city, Jeungpyeong-gun, Mokpo-si 5 2.0
Pyrus serotina Rehder Busan Gangseo-gu, Jungrang-gu, Naju-si, Pyeongtaek-si, Ulju-gun 5 2.0
11 Rosa rugosa Thunb. Goseong-gun, Ongjin-gun, Sinan-gun, Yangyang-gun 4 1.6
Lagerstroemia indica L. Daegu Buk-gu, Gangneung-si, Hwaseong-si, Sunchang-gun 4 1.6
12 Cosmos bipinnatus Cav. Eunpyeong-gu, Gokseong-gun, Paju-si 3 1.2
Magnolia parviflora Sieb. et Zucc. Hoengseong-gun, Suyeong-gu, Taebaek-si 3 1.2
Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. Buyeo-gun, Yeongyang-gun, Yeonje-gu 3 1.2
Prunus persica L. Bucheon-si, Sejong special self-governing city, Yeongdeok-gun 3 1.2
13 Chrysanthemum zawadskii Herbich var. latilobum (Maxim.) Kitamura Jeongeup-si, Pochen-si 2 0.8
Prunus serrulata Thunb. var. spontanea Max. Wils. Changwon-si, Ulsan Nam-gu 2 0.8
Rhododendron weyrichii Maxim. Dalseong-gun, Jeju special self-governing province 2 0.8
Rhododendron yedoense Maxim. ex Regel var. poukhanense Jangsu-gun, Nowon-gu 2 0.8
14 Abeliophyllum distichum Nakai Goesan-gun 1 0.4
Chrysanthemum indicum L. Hwasun-gun 1 0.4
Convallaria keiskei (Miq.) Miquel Hanam-si 1 0.4
Cornus officinalis Sieb. et Zucc. Uiseong-gun 1 0.4
Cymbidium goeringii (Reichb. fil.) Reichb. fil. Hampyeong-gun 1 0.4
Cymbidium kanran Makino Seogwipo-si 1 0.4
Gardenia jasminoides Ellis var. grandiflora Nakai Namhae-gun 1 0.4
Gossypium indicum Lam. Sancheong-gun 1 0.4
Helianthus annuus L. Yangcheon-gu 1 0.4
Impatiens balsamina L. Goesan-gun 1 0.4
Iris ensata var. spontanea (Makino) Nakai Dobong-gu 1 0.4
Kerria japonica (L.) DC. Dongducheon-si 1 0.4
Lilium tigrinum Ker-Gawl. Ulsan Buk-gu 1 0.4
Lycoris sanguinea var. koreana (Nakai) T. Koyama Jangseong-gun 1 0.4
Lycoris squamigera Maxim. Yeonggwang-gun 1 0.4
Magnolia sieboldii K. Koch Bonghwa-gun 1 0.4
Malus pumila Miller Cheongsong-gun 1 0.4
Narcissus spp. Jeju-si 1 0.4
Paeonia suffruticosa Andr. Geumsan-gun 1 0.4
Prunus armeniaca L. var. ansu Max. Yanggu-gun 1 0.4
Prunus salicina Lindl. Gimcheon-si 1 0.4
Pulsatilla tongkangensis Y. N. Lee & T. C. Lee Jeongseon-gun 1 0.4
Punica granafum L. Jinju-si 1 0.4
No floral emblem Busan Dong-gu, Daejeon Daedeok-gu, Daejeon Dong-gu, Daejeon Seo-gu, Gunpo-si, Michuhol-gu, Siheung-si, Yuseong-gu 8 3.2
Total 247 100.0
Table 3
Symbolic meanings of the top ten designation ranking floral emblems
Designation rank Floral emblem Number of meanings Symbolic meanings (Assignment frequency)
1 Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. 40 Prosperity(7), Mental(5), Vigor(5), Combination(4), Love(4), Patience(4), Richness(4), Fidelity(3), Amiable(2), Beauty(2), Development(2), Endurance(2), Joy(2), Local patriotism(2), Passion(2), Politeness(2), Pure(2), Strength(2), Wise(2), Citizenship(1), Clarity(1), Cohesion(1), Concession(1), Democratization(1), Exuberancy(1), Faith(1), Familiarity(1), Foreknowledge(1), Growth(1), Honor(1), Hospitality(1), Industry(1), Loyalty(1), Moderation(1), Pioneer(1), Potential(1), Recognition(1), Rusticity(1), Tender(1), Youth(1)
2 Forsythia koreana Nakai 25 Hope(10), Prosperity(7), Cohesion(4), Development(3), Fighting spirit(3), Vigor(3), Cooperation(2), Friendly(2), Patience(2), Peace(2), Unsophisticated(2), Assiduity(1), Combination(1), Desire(1), Future(1), Hospitality(1), Light(1), Liveliness(1), Love(1), Pioneer(1), Positive thinking(1), Power(1), Stability(1), Tidings of spring (1), Virtue(1)
3 Camellia japonica L. 27 Love(3), Prosperity(3), Vigor(3), Passion(2), Sea(2), Will(2), Backbone(1), Beach(1), Beauty(1), Chastity(1), Cohesion(1), Combination(1), Courage(1), Endurance(1), Exuberancy(1), Friends of Korean traditional scholar(1), Fruition(1), Hope(1), Industry(1), Local patriotism(1), Luck(1), Patience(1), Potential(1), Rusticity(1), Strength(1), Talent producing(1), Victory(1)
4 Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz. 20 Cohesion(5), Combination(5), Rusticity(4), Industry(3), Love(3), Familiarity(1), Filial duty(1), Hope(1), Independence(1), Iron hand in a velvet glove (1), Life force(1), Local patriotism(1), Mind(1), Moderation(1), Mountain filled with azalea(1), Personality(1), Prosperity(1), Strength(1), Tender(1), Warmth(1)
5 Rosa hybrida Hort. 21 Passion(5), Beauty(4), Courage(3), Love(3), Prosperity(3), Wisdom(3), Development(2), Local patriotism(2), Active(1), Chastity(1), Combination(1), Concord(1), Dignity(1), Elegance(1), Enthusiasm(1), Fragrant(1), Future(1), Grace(1), Longing(1), Possibility(1), Proud(1)
6 Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram. 17 Richness(4), Patience(2), Prosperity(2), Stability(2), Vigor(2), Constancy(1), Development(1), Fidelity(1), Friendly(1), Loyalty(1), Mild(1), Personality(1), Politeness(1), Pure(1), Sophisticated(1), Tender(1)
7 Magnolia kobus DC. 23 Chastity(2), Cohesion(2), Grace(2), Heart(2), Mental(2), Neat(2), Capacity(1), Combination(1), Decent(1), Elegance(1), Favor(1), Love(1), Peace(1), Pure(1), Recognition(1), Richness(1), Sacrifice(1), Smooth(1), Stability(1), Thermal water(1), Unsophisticated(1), Verdure(1), Will(1)
8 Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc. 17 Noble(4), Fidelity(2), Strength(2), Backbone(1), Creation(1), Development(1), Endurance(1), Grace(1), Heart(1), Humility(1), Moral character(1), Morality(1), Personality(1), Prosperity(1), Seonbijeongsin (Korean traditional scholar spirit)(1), Self-help(1), Virtue(1)
9 Zininia elegans Jacq. 11 Patience(4), Endurance(2), 100-day blooming(1), Development(1), Familiarity(1), Force(1), Grace(1), Mental(1), Potential(1), Vigor(1), Will(1)
10 Magnolia denudata Desroux. 11 Chastity(2), Art(1), Combination(1), Cooperation(1), Decent(1), Elegance(1), Mental(1), Mild(1), Naive(1), Self-help(1), Self-reliance(1)
Pyrus serotina Rehder 11 Unsophisticated(2), Assiduity(1), Backbone(1), Beauty(1), Cohesion(1), Creation(1), Ethnicity(1), Hope(1), Recognition(1), Seonbijeongsin(Korean traditional scholar spirit)(1), Will(1)
Table 4
Symbolic meaning of floral emblem ranked by the semantic assignment frequency of administrative divisions
Rank Symbolic meaning of floral emblem Number of meanings within the same rank Assignment frequency of each meaning (Percent) Subtotal assignment frequencyz (Percent)
1 Prosperity 1 23 (5.3 %) 23 (5.3 %)
2 Cohesion 1 19 (4.3 %) 19 (4.3 %)
3 Combination 1 18 (4.1 %) 18 (4.1 %)
4 Love 1 17 (3.9 %) 17 (3.9 %)
5 Mental, Patience, Vigor 3 13 (3.0 %) 39 (8.9 %)
6 Hope, Passion, Richness 3 10 (2.3 %) 30 (6.9 %)
7 Development, Personality, Will 3 8 (1.8 %) 24 (5.5 %)
8 Beauty, Chastity, Local patriotism, Strength 4 7 (1.6 %) 28 (6.4 %)
9 Industry, Unsophisticated 2 6 (1.4 %) 12 (2.7 %)
10 Fidelity, Noble, Peace 3 5 (1.1 %) 15 (3.4 %)
11 Backbone, Courage, Endurance, Rusticity, Stability 5 4 (0.9 %) 20 (4.6 %)
12 Cleanliness, Enthusiasm, Ethos, Fighting spirit, Friendly, Grace, Heart, Joy, Luck, Mild, Moderation, Politeness, Potential, Pure, Recognition, Tender, Wise, Youth 18 3 (0.7 %) 54 (12.4 %)
13 Amiable, Aspiration, Autogenous, Citizenship, Desire, Dignity, Elegance, Emotion, Ethnicity, Exuberancy, Familiarity, Figure, Fruition, Future, Life force, Neat, Patiently, Pioneer, Seonbijeongsin(Korean traditional scholar spirit), Sea, Virtue, Warmth 22 2 (0.5 %) 44 (10.1 %)
14 100-day blooming, Active, Appearance, Art, Aspect, Assiduity, Beach, Bulgap Mountain, Capacity, Charm, Cheerful, Clarity, Concession, Concord, Constancy, Cooperation, Creation, Decent, Democratization, Dream, Energy, Faith, Favor, Filial duty, First discovered, First plantation, Foreknowledge, Fragrant, Friends of Korean traditional scholar, Generosity, Growth, Gumption, Harmony, Herbal town, Holiness, Honor, Hospitality, humility, Independence, Innocence, Iron hand in a velvet glove, Jump, Knowledge-morals-body, Life, Light, Liveliness, Living, Longing, Loyalty, Lustiness, Lyrical meaning, Mind, Moral character, Morality, Mountain filled with azalea, Naive, News, Noble man, Order, Origin, Patriotic loyalty, Patriotic spirit, Plain, Pledge, Positive thinking, Possibility, Power, Pride, Proud, Resident character, Sacrifice, Self-help, Self-reliance, Smooth, Sophisticated, Stamina, Status, Talent producing, Temperament, Thermal water, Tidings of spring, Time, Utility, Verdure, Viability, Victory, Vitality, Wisdom 88 1 (0.2 %) 88 (20.1 %)
No symbolic meaning - - 6 (1.4 %)
Total 155 437 (100.0 %)

z Subtotal assignment frequency is calculated by (number of meanings within the same rank)×(assignment frequency of each meaning).

Table 5
Plant species frequency of the top ten assignment ranking symbolic meanings
Assign -ment rank Symbolic meaning Assigned plant species Frequency
1 Prosperity Camellia japonica L., Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram., Forsythia koreana Nakai, Kerria japonica (L.) DC., Lilium tigrinum Ker-Gawl., Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc., Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rosa hybrida Hort. 9
2 Cohesion Cymbidium goeringii (Reichb. fil.) Reichb. fil., Forsythia koreana Nakai, Magnolia kobus DC., Magnoria parviflora Sieb. et Zucc., Punica granafum L., Pyrus serotina Rehder, Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rhododendron weyrichii Maxim., Rosa rugosa Thunb. 10
3 Combination Camellia japonica L., Cosmos bipinnatus Cav., Forsythia koreana Nakai, Magnolia denudata Desroux., Magnolia kobus DC., Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rosa hybrida Hort., Rosa rugosa Thunb. 9
4 Love Abeliophyllum distichum Nakai, Camellia japonica L., Chrysanthemum zawadskii Herbich var. latilobum (Maxim.) Kitamura, Convallaria keiskei (Miq.) Miquel, Cornus officinalis Sieb. et Zucc., Cosmos bipinnatus Cav., Forsythia koreana Nakai, Magnolia kobus DC., Prunus persica L., Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rosa hybrida Hort. 12
5 Mental Convallaria keiskei (Miq.) Miquel, Magnolia denudata Desroux., Magnolia kobus DC., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Zininia elegans Jacq. 5
Patience Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram., Cymbidium goeringii (Reichb. fil.) Reichb. fil., Forsythia koreana Nakai, Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rosa rugosa Thunb., Zininia elegans Jacq. 6
Vigor Camellia japonica L., Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram., Forsythia koreana Nakai, Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rhododendron yedoense Maxim. ex Regel var. poukhanense. Zininia elegans Jacq. 6
6 Hope Forsythia koreana Nakai, Pyrus serotina Rehder, Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz. 3
Passion Camellia japonica L., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rhododendron weyrichii Maxim., Rosa hybrida Hort. 4
Richness Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram., Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. 3
7 Development Forsythia koreana Nakai, Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc., Prunus persica L., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rhododendron weyrichii Maxim. Rosa hybrida Hort., Zininia elegans Jacq. 7
Personality Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram., Cornus officinalis Sieb. et Zucc., Magnolia sieboldii K. Koch, Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc., Prunus persica L., Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., 6
Will Camellia japonica L., Chrysanthemum indicum L., Pulsatilla tongkangensis Y. N. Lee & T. C. Lee, Punica granafum L., Pyrus serotina Rehder, Zininia elegans Jacq. 6
8 Chastity Camellia japonica L., Magnolia denudata Desroux., Magnolia kobus DC., Magnoria parviflora Sieb. et Zucc., Rosa hybrida Hort., Rosa rugosa Thunb. 6
Local patriotism Camellia japonica L., Gardenia jasminoides Ellis var. grandiflora Nakai, Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rosa hybrida Hort. 5
Strength Camellia japonica L., Helianthus annuus L., Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc., Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. 5
9 Beauty Camellia japonica L., Narcissus spp., Pyrus serotina Rehder, Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max., Rosa hybrida Hort. 5
Industry Camellia japonica L., Prunus armeniaca L. var. ansu Max., Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. 4
Unsophisticated Chrysanthemum indicum L., Forsythia koreana Nakai, Magnolia sieboldii K. Koch, Magnoria parviflora Sieb. et Zucc., Pyrus serotina Rehder, Rhododendron yedoense Maxim. ex Regel var. poukhanense 6
10 Fidelity Chrysanthemum morifolium Ram., Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc., Rhododendron schlippenbachii Max. 3
Noble Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc. 1
Peace Convallaria keiskei (Miq.) Miquel, Forsythia koreana Nakai, Magnolia kobus DC., Prunus armeniaca L. var. ansu Max. 4

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