On April 15th, 2012, Falun Gong practitioners in South Korea participated in the Eighth Han River Ruyi Island Cherry Blossom Festival. The South Korean Parliament and financial center are both located on Ruyi Island. The festival, the largest cherry blossom festival in Seoul, runs this year from April 13th to April 23rd. Visitors to the festival enjoy not only the blooming cherry trees, rhododendron and winter jasmine, but also the beautiful scenery along the Han River. Various cultural and art shows are also held during the ten days of the festival. Nearly four million visitors attend the festival every year, and on April 15th, it was estimated that there were as many as 550,000 tourists.
|The Divine Land Marching Band steps off from the east entrance of the South Korean Parliament building|
|Spectators enjoy the Divine Land Marching Band|
This was the second year for Falun Gong practitioners to participate in the festival. The practitioners were organised into two groups, including the Divine Land Marching Band and a group of practitioners demonstrating the Falun Gong exercises. The practitioners held a parade on the evening of April 15th, stepping off from the east entrance of the South Korean Parliament building. The musicians, dressed in striking blue and white Tang Dynasty style costumes, drew the attention of the festival visitors. The band was well received along the length of the parade route, and many spectators took photos. As this is the biggest cherry blossom festival in Seoul, there were many tourists from mainland China and Southeast Asia, as well as visitors from Western countries. Several Chinese people were surprised upon seeing the Falun Gong procession. Many accepted Falun Gong informational materials and promised to read them.
|Tourists have their photos taken with practitioners as they demonstrate the Falun Gong exercises|
Following the Divine Land Marching Band was a group of practitioners demonstrating the Falun Gong exercises. Several spectators imitated the hand gestures of the exercises and many took photos. Many people accepted Falun Gong flyers and were surprised to learn that such a graceful practice is being persecuted in China today. A number of people expressed an interest in learning Falun Gong.
|Falun Gong practitioners distribute flyers to spectators|
Newsis, the largest private news agency in South Korea, as well as World Journal and Asian Economic News, each carried a report about the parade.
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