Winter in Korea is very gray: the buildings are gray, everything is paved, and there are not a lot of plants and trees. Justin and I wondered occasionally about the lack of greenery here, especially when it's clear from trips to the rest of the peninsula that South Korea's soil overall must be pretty nice. The explanation we finally pieced together was that the Korean War's impact here on the ecology of Seoul has been long-lasting. Dr. Kim told us that he remembered, during his early childhood, people cutting down and burning whatever trees could be found in Seoul for fuel in the wintertime. War devastation + years of poverty-related deforestation + annual monsoon = serious loss of topsoil, which explains why the ground here is sandy over a hundred miles from any sort of beach.
See our school soccer field, for example:
It also seems that the people responsible for reforesting did not have a great deal of training in the best way to renew the land. I'm not an expert, either, but I do know that if you have no dirt, and you rake up and throw away all the leaves in the fall before they have a chance to decompose, your soil situation is not likely to change.
We do, however, get beautiful roses in the spring. Here are some various rose images from around the neighborhood:
I know, roses and barbed wire, it's emo. Still my favorite. I like the light.