Why Seoul stinks in the fall

True story ~ as I was walking to work last Friday afternoon I felt something hit my head. When I looked at the ground, it was the fruit of a gingko tree. Luckily it didn’t break when it hit my head. Gingko tree is called “eunheng namu” (Hangeul: 은행나무) in Korean.

The leaves of the gingko tree turn yellow in the fall. My neighborhood is lined with this tall tree that bears a yellow fruit notorious for its stench. If you happen to step on one, your shoes are doomed. To me, the fruit smells like baby poop or rotten socks. Seoul stinks in the fall and this is the main reason why!

Gingko trees line a street in Dongdaemun-gu
Gingko trees line a street in Dongdaemun-gu

Gingko trees make for a beautiful fall scenery in Seoul ~ but it makes the streets stinky as well. Female gingko trees bear the fruit with the pungent odor. I remember my mother-in-law bringing home a bucket of the fruits to our apartment. She dried them up for days for the nuts and the whole house stank for days! Gingko nuts don’t really smell but the flesh do . They are said to be good for your health. Just roast them on a hot pan and they taste good. Don’t eat too much though

Gingko nuts are good for you!
Gingko nuts are good for you!

So what is the government doing to the reason why Seoul stinks? Apparently, the city has initiated replacing the female trees with male ones.

In my district, workers would shake the fruits off the tree and collect them so they don’t rot on the ground. I chanced upon them twice last week ~

Workers collect the fruits to prevent them from stinking ~
Workers collect the fruits to prevent them from stinking ~

Will it make a difference? I already noticed that there is not as much foul-smell in the air ~ or perhaps it’s too early to tell?

The reason why Seoul stinks in the fall

If there will be no more female fruit-bearing gingko trees, I will feel bad for the ajummas who would diligently pick the fallen fruits on the ground ~ just like my MIL. But at least I won’t be ranting about the stench anymore ~

One thought on “Why Seoul stinks in the fall

  • November 11, 2016 at 5:31 pm
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    Ahhhh…kaya pala ang baho sa Nami Island. Nagatataka ako kung san galling yung amoy poop ng pusa, so sa fruit pala ng ginko tree yun. I learned something new today.

    Reply

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