This article was originally published here: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2017/04/371_226773.html
By Park Jae-hyuk
HWASEONG, Gyeonggi Province ― Newlywed couples crowded a hill at Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, Saturday to plant trees amid growing concerns over the deadly air pollution in Korea mainly caused by fine dust particles.
Yuhan-Kimberly and Forest for Peace hosted the event that 250 couples, who have been married for two years or less, or are soon to be married, attended. There were another 100 people from Yuhan-Kimberly, the Korea Forest Service and Hwaseong City Government at the event.
They planted about 8,000 fir trees on the sunny day to create a forest on the state-owned land, which will be filled with 40,000 trees planted by more than 1,000 couples over the next five years. The hill is expected to be a dense forest in about 30 years.
Participants hoped their efforts will allow their potential children to enjoy cleaner air. Korea has been ranked as one of the worst countries in terms of air pollution.
"I love to look up at the sky, but the heavy fine dust recently hinders doing so," said Lee Yoon-jeong, who joined the event with her husband Moon Joon-sik to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. "The air quality, which was OK when we were young, seems to continue to worsen. So we decided to plant trees for our future children."
According to a Yuhan-Kimberly survey, six out of 10 applicants for the tree planting regarded fine dust as the most urgent environmental issue that needed to be resolved for future generations.
Among 3,920 couples who applied for the event, 52 percent stated a better future as the reason for planting trees, while 24 percent mentioned the resolution of environmental problems.
Government research shows that a hectare of forest absorbs 168 kilograms of pollutants, including fine dust.
"I think fine dust in Korea is a real problem," said Yuhan-Kimberly chief financial officer Joe Kupka, who planted trees with his wife. "So it would be good to address it now, rather than wait until people's health is bad."
While the CFO and Yuhan-Kimberly employees have planted trees for years, most newlywed couples said they had never planted trees. But the participants vowed to revisit the site and some put name tags on their trees.
"We are eager to participate in the event again next year," said Park Ji-yeol, who will tie the knot with his fiance Kim Jeong-san next month. "We consider planting trees for our potential baby's fortune."
The couple enjoyed planting as a meaningful event before their wedding.
"Planting trees is planting our future," Yuhan-Kimberly chief executive Choe Kyoo-bok said. "Elaborately planted trees will grow along with your children."
Since 1984, the joint venture between Korean pharmaceutical firm Yuhan Corp. and global personal care company Kimberly-Clark has provided opportunities for people to participate in various environmental activities under the slogan "Keep Korea Green."
The first Keep Korea Green event was held in 1985.