“When Spring comes, forsythias bloom first.
And when the forsythias start to wither, magnolias bloom.
Then when the magnolias wither, cherry blossoms bloom.
By the time the cherry blossoms wither and drop, the lilacs are in full bloom.
And when the lilacs wither, acacia flowers bloom.
Then the mountain breeze carries the aroma of the flowers.”
— Cha Eun-seok
Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol (2020, episode 1)
Have you ever noticed how fond people in K-Dramaland are of the language of flowers (꽃말)? Particularly when they are buying a bouquet for a proposal, they’d often ask the florist to help them select flowers with the most appropriate meaning.
Here are some of the flower meanings mentioned in K-Dramas we’ve come across. Which ones are you familiar with, and which ones are you curious to know more about?
Aconitum | Anemone | Baby’s Breath | Bindweed Flower | Bridalwreath |Buckwheat Flower | Butterfly Flower | Camellia |Cherry Blossoms | China Pink | Christmas Rose | Chrysanthemum | Cistus |Cosmos | Cotton Flower | Dahlia | Delphinium | Edelweiss | Evening Primrose | Forsythia | Freesia | Gerbera | Globe Amaranth | Hibiscus | Hyacinth | Hydrangea | Ivy | Lily of the Valley | Lisianthus | Marigold | Protea | Rosa multiflora | Rose | Stock Flower | Tea Bush Flower | Trumpet Creeper | Tulip | Zinnia
Flower lover Jung Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-jung) asks a group of youngsters that just stole goods from the convenient store she works at in episode 3 of Backstreet Rookie (2020), the meaning of Wolf’s Bane, better known as Aconitum, letting them know that this is what their future looks like: ‘Misanthropy and Death’. Saet-byul presents a bouquet of these flowers in episode 9 to a hospitalized man who had accused her boss Choi Dae-hyun (Ji Chang-wook) of selling expired food. The meaning she implied with those flowers was ‘Don’t upset me’. — Marion & Mich KDL
“Isn’t it pretty? This flower’s called an anemone,” Lee Se-joo (Kim Min-jae) tells his mother, as he shows her a photo when visiting her in the hospital in episode 16 of The Great Seducer (2018). “It means many things,” he continues and thinks back to when Choi Soo-ji (Moon Ga-young) talked about this flower at her hideout, with the same words that he repeats to his mother: “Betrayal. Helpless love. Empty love. Thanks for being there for me. I will give you my everything. Even if you do not love me, I still love you. It has so many meanings, and every one of them is sad. This is my flower from now on. Remember that.” In episode 32, he sends a bouquet of anemones to Soo-ji. — Marion KDL
[SPOILER] Trust the sweet Kim Geum (Seo Ji-hoon) to gift Seon Ok-nam (Moon Chae-won) the kind of flowers that are as gentle and delicate as his heart and soul, on their first date in final episode 16 of Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter (2018). That, and the fact that 700 stalks of roses would have been pretty expensive; but we’re sure Ok-nam appreciated the gesture all the same. While the characters did not particularly delve into the meaning of these sprigs, some of what it represents perfectly encapsulates how Geummie feels about his fairy: “everlasting and undying love, pureness and freedom, reconnecting with lost loves” — now found again, never to be let go in this life. — Mich KDL
In episode 7 of Winter Sonata (2002-3), Lee Min-hyung (Bae Yong-joon) also gifts Jeong Yoo-jin (Choi Ji-woo) a bouquet of baby’s breath when she is about to leave the hospital and tells her that it is the first time he has given flowers to a woman. — Marion KDL
When buying a flower bouquet for his wedding anniversary in episode 6 of Cheat On Me, If You Can (2020-21), Han Woo-sung (Go Jun) –accompanied by his best friend Son Jin-ho (Jung Sang-hoon)– suddenly becomes afraid that the florist’s suggestion could be used as a weapon by his wife and he asks for “something with no thorns, soft, weak and fragile”. It is a baby breath bouquet that he later hands over to a suspicious Kang Yeo-joo (Cho Yeo-jeong). — Marion KDL
In episode 4 of Crushes Reverse (2018), when Nam Dong-yoon bickers with Yu So-mi (Kim Shi-eun) on their way to her sister’s birthday, he picks out a baby breath’s branch out of the red roses-baby breath flower bouquet combination and hands it over to So-mi saying ‘까불면 안개’ (kkabulmyeon angae/ ‘Don’t act up’). This is a word play on the flower’s name in Korean, which is ‘angae (안개)’. — Marion KDL
Baby’s Breath & Red Roses Combination
Nam Dong-yoon offers his girlfriend a red roses-baby breath flower bouquet combination in episode 4 of Crushes Reverse (2018). This is the same combination that Im Soo-ah (Jo Bo-ah) carries with her when on her way to a concert of Yoo Seung-hoon’s (Jung Eui-chul) band Strawberry Fields in episode 1 of Shut Up Flower Boy Band. — Marion KDL
Young Lee Hee-kyung (Jo Seung-hyun) choses the same combination –together with a ring– when he visits Cheon Song-yi (Kim Hyun-soo) for Christmas eve in the past as they remember in episode 1 of My Love from Another Star (2013-14).
Biology teacher Yoon Jung-woo (Lee Sang-Yeob) and Son Ji-eun (Park Ha-Sun) meet by chance at a park in episode 2 of Love Affairs in the Afternoon (2019) and turn their conversation to a bindweed flower they spot. He explains: “A bindweed flower is a vine plant with a climbing nature. Flowers come out between June and August. […] Drawn in slowly and deeply. It’s the meaning of the bindweed flower. […] Due to its climbing nature, its roots extend long and deeply into the Earth and breathes from there. Its meaning must come from that. […] It can’t even bear fruits.” “It’s an interesting symbolism,” she responds, adding: “The meaning feels lonely.” — Marion KDL
“Why did you buy me flowers?” asked a perplexed Han Jun-woo (Oh Eui-sik) over the phone to Im Hee-kyung (Im Se-mi), after he’d received her delivered bouquet in episode 7 of True Beauty (2020-21). “Can’t a woman buy a man flowers?” came Hee-kyung’s confident reply. She later asks if he knows the meaning of the flowers she gave him, to which she said, “I’ll work hard to make it work with you… so please think of me whenever you look at them.” Later in the episode, she finds the flowers returned to her, neatly placed in a bottle with a Post-it that simply says ‘thank you’.
Also known as Reeve’s spirea, this beautiful, hardy shrub is apparently “virtually impossible to kill once established” — much like Hee-kyung’s determination to get her man, perhaps? (Spoiler: she succeeds, at least for now.) Interestingly, it is also the birth flower of BTS’ Jimin, and the pronunciation of its Korean name (조팝나무, jopabnamu) led to an equally interesting episode on their variety show Run BTS!. — Mich KDL
“Lover” is what Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) answers when asked by Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun) in episode 1 of The Goblin (2016-17) about what buckwheat flowers mean. Shin offers her these buckwheat flowers — freshly picked from Borinara Hagwon Farm — when Eun-Tak first calls him, sitting at Jumunjin Beach Breakwater. — Marion KDL
“Charm. Attraction” is how this flower’s meaning is described as at Atelier VertVert Flower School where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Marion KDL
When Oh Joo-in (Im Jin-ah/Nana from After School) and Han Bi-soo (Lee Min-ki) brings Joo-in’s mother –who suffers from dementia– to botanical garden Orangerie in episode 4 of Oh My Ladylord (2021), the older lady is brought back to the past when she sees a camellia bush. “Remember these camellia flowers? You gave me camellia when you asked me out on our first date,” she says to Bi-soo, whom she had earlier mistaken as her late husband. “Oh, I do remember,” Bi-soo responds hesitantly. “And you told me what they symbolized,” continues Joo-in’s mother, and when she asks Bi-soo if he still remembers this too, he responds to Joo-in’s surprise: “It means: ‘I love you more than anyone else.'” — Marion KDL
In episode 6 of Itaewon Class (2020), Oh Soo-a (Kwon Na-ra) thinks back to a moment in high school when she left school after having been wrongfully scolded by one of her classroom teachers. When walking down the road from her school, she stops at the sight of camellia flowers, and picks one while telling herself: “Seventeen is a young age. A pitiful girl whom even her own parents abandoned, I thought: ‘At last I should cherish myself.’ A poor little girl who was never loved by anyone, I thought: ‘At least I should love myself.'” She thus turns the meaning of Camellia flowers into ‘loving oneself more than anyone else’
— Marion KDL
Check out our blogpost for more about these beautiful spring blooms in K-dramas, and where you can see them in real life!
When challenging members from another girl gang to a fight in episode 1 of Backstreet Rookie (2020), flower lover Jung Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-jung) offers to not harm those who know the meaning of the flower China Pink. ‘Rejection’ is the right answer from one girl who leaves in a hurry.
China Pink is a variation of the Carnation flower, or dianthus, which means ‘flower of the gods’. — Marion KDL
In episode 7 of Uncontrollably Fond (2017), Choi Ji-tae (Lim Ju-hwan) gives supposed girlfriend Yoon Jung-eun (Lim Ju-eun) a bouquet of Christmas Roses (Helleborus) and say that they suit her. After admitting that he likes someone else, she tells him as she leaves that the flower’s meaning is, “I have nothing to give you”. According to Atoz Flowers, this flower’s symbolism is “serenity, tranquility and peace” and, on the other hand, it can represent a “scandal or anxiety” (which is more in tune with Uncontrollably Fond). Helleborus were thought to be “magical flowers” since they bloom in cold weather, and there is also a fanciful Christmas myth associated with it. But beware, they can be toxic when ingested, and cause irritation to the skin! — L.C. Lou
Ryan Gold’s (Kim Jae-wook) feelings may have been sincere when he selected these ‘pom-pom’ chrysanthemums as his confession flowers for Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019), but maybe he should have read up more on the colour meanings prior to that. According to this page, yellow chrysanthemums mean ‘rejected love’, while white ones signify a ‘deep pain’ from a break-up. On the other hand, chrysanthemums mean ‘joy, perfection and eternity’ — probably what he’d originally hoped for. Sorry, Ryan – next time, perhaps? — Mich KDL
According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, the origin of the chrysanthemum is thought to be in China. But there are very early recordings of varied varieties of chrysanthemums in Korea and is it assumed that this flower was were introduced to Korea during the Three Kingdoms period, or even earlier. — Marion KDL
Yoon Ma-ri (Park Han-byul) paints this flower in episode 1 of Love in Sadness (2019) and when her husband Kang In-wook (Ryu Soo-young) sees it, he comments that the flower resembles her. She then decides to call it a self-portrait and sneaks the painting out of her house to sell it in a friend’s gallery. When passing by the gallery, Seo Jung-won (Ji Hyun-woo) wonders why anybody would name a painting of this flower in such a way, but ends up buying it. At the end of the episode, his astonishment becomes clear as the meaning of this flower is revealed: “I will die tomorrow.” — Marion KDL
The theme of Cosmos flowers is introduced in episode 13 of 20th Century Boy and Girl (2017) with a patch of them blooming outside Jin Jin’s (Han Ye-seul) parents’ chicken restaurant. There is also a painting in her old room of a girl standing in a field of cosmos.
In episode 14, she puts a plucked flower behind Ji-won’s (Kim Ji-suk) ear and asks if he knows the meaning of the cosmos — not the real meaning though, but the one her sister made up. “I Love You.” It is a sweet moment.
It’s funny that she says that her sister made up this meaning; according to Batul Nafisa Baxamusa at Gardenerdy.com, the word “Cosmos in Greek means ‘orderly, beautiful, and ornamental’. The flower’s fragrance and vibrant colors give it the attributes of peacefulness, wholeness, and modesty. The typical meaning of this flower is ‘love flower’. This flower is often used to illustrate one’s deepest feelings of love. When sent to one’s love on Valentine’s Day it can be said to mean ‘walk with me hand in hand’ and ‘see, life is indeed beautiful’.”
So her sister was completely right! — L.C. Lou
As Yoon Tae-oh (Ji Soo) points out the flowers he’d chosen for Han Song-yi (Jung Chae-yeon) in final episode 16 of My First First Love (2019), he notes that the cotton flower “stands for the love of a mother” — because aside from being his girlfriend and best friend, she’s also family to him. According to this florist, it also means “cherish the people around you”, which is certainly something Tae-oh learnt to do. — Mich KDL
It is also with a cotton flower bouquet that Samshin/ the Birth Grandmother (Lee El) congratulates Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun) at her graduation day in The Goblin (2016-17); probably as a stand-in for her mother, as well. — Marion KDL
“These are dahlias,” a wistful Park Do-gyeom (Seo Ji-hoon) points out to Seo Hyun-joo (Hwang Jung-eum) in episode 14 of Men Are Men (2020). “Do you know what this flower symbolizes?” he continues, “Your love makes me happy.” Despite not winning her affections, Do-gyeom still wants the best for the one he adores, so that he can be happy too. Maybe this flower actually represents him much more accurately, as it also symbolizes inner strength, elegance, being graceful and kind.— Mich KDL
In episode 14 of Tale of the Nine Tailed (2020), Pyo Jae-hwan (Kim Kang-min) meets Kim Sae-rom (Jung Yi-seo) to celebrate her birthday at this park, with a bouquet of Dahlias and a cake. He quickly notices that she has the rash on her neck; she, on the other hand, tries to keep it light by asking him if he can keep her fish. — Marion KDL
“I Will Make You Happy” is how this flower’s meaning is described as at Atelier VertVert Flower School, where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Marion KDL
In episode 11 of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol (2020), Cha Eun-seok (Kim Joo-hun) offers Goo Ra-ra (Go Ara) a bouquet of delphiniums and asks her to look up its meaning. When he offers her another bouquet in episode 12, he asks if she has looked up the meaning and she replies: “I will make you happy.” — Marion KDL
In episode 10 of The King: Eternal Monarch (2020), Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho) appears shorting in front of Jeong Tae-eul (Kim Go-eun) telling her that he realized that never gave her flowers, crossed then universe for her and loves her deeply. He leaves and she breaks down in tears with an (artificial) delphinium bouquet in her hands that she received from him. — Marion KDL
While in the greenhouse ruminating about the meanings of flowers in episode 11 of Prison Playbook (2017-18), Kim Je-hyuk (Park Hae-soo) points out this flower and suggests that it means gratitude. “Courage,” fellow inmate and cellmate Kim Min-cheol (Choi Moo-sung) gently corrects him, “Edelweiss means courage.”
Min-cheol’s meaning refers here to the meaning of Edelweiss (エーデルワイス) in Japanese Floriography, also known as Kanakotoba (花言葉), where it stands for ‘Courage’ and ‘Power’. It is said that this mountain flower is highly prized; as it grows at high altitudes and in risky conditions, any man who dares to venture out to acquire the flower (and lives to tell the tale) is courageous indeed. This flower was also popularized by the North American song of the same name, heard in the 1965 musical film The Sound of Music. — Mich KDL, with additions by Marion KDL
As we see in episode 1 of Hotel Del Luna (2019), Goo Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo) is gifted a pot of these flowers every year, as a reminder of his father’s promise to Jang Man-wol (IU/Lee Ji-eun). This is particularly apt as the meaning of this flower is “youth, eternal love and memory” — though interestingly enough, it also means “inconstancy and infidelity”. Another reason this flower is so appropriate is how it only blooms in the evening (hence its name); the mysterious Hotel del Luna too, only opens for business at night. — Mich KDL
While musing about the emergence of new couples at Always Law Firm, colleagues Lee Doo-seob (Park Ji-hwan) and Yang Eun-ji (Jang So-yeon) come across forsythia shrubs lining the pavement, in episode 15 of Touch Your Heart (2019). Excited at seeing his favourite flowers in bloom, the sensitive and poetic Doo-seob asks Secretary Yang if she knows what they represent. When she says no, he turns to her — also his secret crush since… ever — and gives her a shy, sentimental reply: “My love… is deeper than yours.” It is then that he plucks up the courage to ask her out to dinner.
Sadly, this budding spring relationship was one that was not meant to be, as Secretary Yang gently turns down Doo-seob’s affections in the next and final episode of the show. — Mich KDL
“Did you know that freesias mean ‘a new start’?” Oh Tae-yang (An Woo-yeon) asks Cha Sun-hee (Lee Da-hae) in episode 19 of Good Witch (2018), when he proposes to her with these flowers — only to be rejected directly.
For Yoon Tae-oh (Ji Soo), the freesias that he picked for Han Song-yi (Jung Chae-yeon) in final episode 16 of My First First Love (2019) “stands for friends” — which represents how important their 20-year-long friendship is to their relationship. — Marion & Mich KDL
“Grace. Kindness. Gratitude” is how the pink gerbera’s meaning is described as at Atelier VertVert Flower School where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Marion KDL
On Jung-sun’s mother (Lee Mi-sook) decorates his new restaurant with these flowers and explains their meaning to him in episode 8 of Temperature of Love (2017). — Marion KDL
Flower lover Jung Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-jung) is delighted when her childhood friend, Kang Ji-wook (Kim Min-gue), visits her at the hospital with a basket of hibiscus flowers in episode 6 of Backstreet Rookie (2020). When asked about its meaning, Saet-byul ponders about it for a while before recalling that it’s ‘noble friendship’, much to her puppy friend’s dismay. Maybe it’s because his choice of red hibiscus flowers actually symbolizes ‘love and passion‘ instead? — Mich KDL
Purple Hyacinth = Sorry
Yoon Yoo-jung (Yoon Eun-hye) says sorry to Cha Woo-hyun (Chun Jung-myung) with a box containing and apple and a bouquet of purple hyacinths in episode 4 of Fluttering Warning (2018). — Marion KDL
White Hyacinth = I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
Hong Dae-young (Lee Do-hyun) –in his appearance of his younger days– brings these flowers to his mother’s grave in episode 8 of 18 Again (2020). It is then that he runs into his father Hong Joo-man (Lee Byung-joon), who asks him about the flowers’ meaning. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. That’s the meaning of the flowers,” was the younger man’s answer. — Marion KDL
Red Hydrangea = I Love You
Joo “Joy” Ki-bbeum (Song Ha-yoon) decorates her house with it all the time because she loves the meaning of it, as she tells Sung Ki-joon (Hoya of Infinite) in episode 16 of Devilish Joy (2018). As L.C. Lou points out, the flowers shown in the drama are actually red chrysanthemum (which come with a different meaning too). — Marion KDL
When stopping an underaged customer (cameo by Lee Jun-young) who had just bought cigarettes with a false identity card at her convenience store, flower lover Jung Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-jung) asks him if he knows the meaning of ivy in episode 1 of Backstreet Rookie (2020). “Symbiosis”, she lets the customer know, before she explains how she depends financially on her job. — Marion KDL
When Han Deuk-gu (Hyun Bin) tags along to Kim Bo-ra’s (Sung Yoo-ri) brother’s grave, he sees that it is surrounded by the lily of the valley in episode 2 of The Snow Queen (2006). “Do you know the meaning of this flower?” he asks Bo-ra. Then, he answers his own question: “You will surely find happiness.” A little later, Bo-ra asks him again about the flower’s meaning, and after hearing it she retorts with: “That’s an impressive phrase.”
Stretching from 2006 till now, this is definitely the most long-standing flower meaning in K-Dramaland that we have tracked to date. Even if the Lily of the Valley comes with many meanings and from different origins — from the bible, to May 1st in France to a symbol for a Germanic goddess–, the meaning in K-Dramaland seems to be unequivocally “return of happiness”– the meaning this flower carried in Victorian England.
— Marion KDL
Geum Jan-di (Goo Hye-sun) learns about the same meaning of this flower — ‘You’ll definitely be happy’ — during her stay in New Caledonia in episodes 5-6 of Boys Over Flowers (2009). Her direct conclusion is that the lily of the valley is thus a flower for lovers to give to each other or to give to one’s beloved. — Marion KDL
In episode 26 of Lady Cha Dal-rae’s Lover (2018), Seol Song-ju (Nam So-yeon) lets her wedding guests wait because her wedding bouquet — lily of the valley that she had to order from abroad and the flight was delayed– didn’t arrive in time. Kam Sun-ho (Jung Wook) pressures her to enter the wedding hall without flowers (or artificial ones) but she insists that she cannot go through with the marriage without real Lilies of the Valley because it is these flowers that will guarantee the happiness their marriage life. Sun-ho ends up canceling the wedding because the flowers didn’t come in time. She reasons as follows: “The bouquet of the lily of the valley is the essence of everything. Everything I have done until now is meaningless without that. I can’t walk in there without my bouquet. you know exactly why I need lily of the valley. Your boutonniere (he wears a light pink rose) means „happiness found again“. My bouquet means „we will definitely be happy.“ These are perfect flowers for us. It stands for our wishes. […] Some people believe a wedding is just a ceremony. But that’s not me. Sometimes formalities are more important.”
Song-ju is not the only person that insists on Lily of the Valley wedding bouquets. Kate Middleton, Grace Kelly as well as South Korean actresses Choi Ji-woo and Ko So-young went down the aisle with lilies of the valley wedding bouquets. — Marion KDL
“Do you know what this flower represents?” a deliriously happy Park Hae-ran asks her bewildered mother, as she comes home to a living room full of flowers in episode 11 of Hide and Seek (2018). “It means ‘return to happiness’,” Hae-ran says while arranging the bouquet before her, adding that it reminds her of Soo-ah, the kidnapped daughter that she could have found again. Wonder if Hae-ran knows that these flowers, while delicately beautiful, are also known to be poisonous. Perhaps, an appropriate representation of Ha Yeon-joo (Uhm Hyun-kyung) — the girl she considers to be Soo-ah. — Mich KDL
As Wi Jung-hyeok (Kim Tae-hoon) pays respects to his deceased partner in episode 19 (full episode 10) of Secret Boutique (2019), he brings a bouquet of lilies of the valley with him. The flowers’ here might carry also the importance of his love when we think about their important use in wedding bouquets. — Marion KDL
“In the language of flowers, it means unchanging love,” so states the florist in episode 19 of Five Children (2016). Another florist in episode 10 of Super Daddy Yeol (2015) says the same thing about the meaning: “unchanging love, the one and only love”. No wonder this flower is used a lot in bridal bouquets (also because it resembles roses). — Marion KDL
“So, I asked her what she wanted,” said Choi Kyeong-jun (Kim Min-suk) when talking about his first night together with Suh Rin-i (So Ju-yeon) in episode 2 of Lovestruck in the City (2020-21). Park Jae-won (Ji Chang-wook) jumps into the conversation saying: “I know what she said: a hotel room, white lisianthus flowers and a bottle of wine as old as they are.” The online flower shop, which is shown in the background when Jae-won speaks, already conveniently highlights the meaning of the flower as ‘Unchanging Love’. — Marion KDL
In general, Lisianthus’ meaning seems to be very unequivocal and not color-dependent in South Korea; albeit carrying other meanings in Europe (as, among others: esteem, charisma, dignity, and gratitude). This flower, which has the Latin name Eustoma russellianum, originated in North America and has been cultivated in South Korea since the late 1980s. From the 1990s onwards and with the improvement of seedling technology, its cultivation in South Korea continued to grow, though these flowers are usually still imported from Japan. In South Korea, the flower was registered as an horticultural species under the name Lisianthus; reason why it is known under this name here (and in K-Dramaland) though it’s usually better known under its common names Texas Bluebell or Prairie Gentian.
— Marion KDL
“Marigolds grow well, no matter where they are. They just need sunlight and fresh air. […],” writes Kang Sa-ra’s (Lee Da-hee) father Kang Dae-sik (Kang Nam-kil) on a birthday card that’s gets delivered to her, along a flowerpot with marigolds in episode 9 of The Beauty Inside (2018). Two episodes later, we learn from a florist to Ryu Eun-ho (Ahn Jae-hyeon) that a marigold has two meanings, while Sa-ra reads on the Internet that the meaning of the marigold depends on its type and can either be “Happiness that will definitely come,” or “A sad love.” — Marion KDL
The African Marigold stands for sad goodbye, as explained in episode 4 of Here Comes Love (2016).
“PS. The symbolic meaning of marigolds is happiness that is bound to happen. I know that happiness awaits you.” This is how Kang Sa-ra’s (Lee Da-hee) father Kang Dae-sik (Kang Nam-kil) ends his birthday wishes for his daughter on the same card mentioned above, in episode 9 of The Beauty Inside (2018).
In episode 4 of Here Comes Love (2016), the meaning is explained similarly — saying that it stands for “happiness that will one day come” — but now referring explicitly to the French Marigold. — Marion KDL
Ha Wan-seung (Kwon Sang-woo) looks for flowers for Yoo Sul-ok (Choi Kang-hee) in episode 6 of Mystery Queen (2017). He wants out-of-the-ordinary flowers and the florist at MBC Flower, Flower Delivery suggests Protea, a South African flower that women like a lot and is “luxurious and charming.” The flower means “thank you”, as the florist explains. When walking out of the shop, and before he is kidnapped, Wan-seung says to himself that Protea is a funny name for a flower and comments how expensive she is. In episode 7, we learn that these flowers are often used as a bouquet and that they mean gratitude and thanks but also “I send you sweet love.“ — Marion KDL
While visiting the elderly inmate he saved from a fire in episode 11 of Prison Playbook (2017-18), Kim Je-hyuk (Park Hae-soo) presents him with a pot of ‘wild roses’ as a gift. As he begins to speak of its meaning, Je-hyuk pauses and instead recites a line from the 1942 song Jjilreggot (찔레꽃): “I miss the cottage on the hill in my hometown down south, where the wild roses bloom.” But, the real flower meaning he’d learnt from cellmate Min-cheol (Choi Moo-sung) was “solitude, cautious love and longing for family” — a feeling encapsulated by the elderly inmate, who had tragically lost both his wife and daughter to suicide.
When fighting her sister in episode 2 of Backstreet Rookie (2020), flower lover Jung Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-jung) asks her the meaning of the wild rose. ‘Love between sisters’ is what she explains to her sisters after she has won.
In episode 1 of When I Was The Most Beautiful (2020), Oh Ye-ji (Lim Soo-hyang) comes to what looks like her former neighborhood. While watching her mother pass by her without recognizing her and being absorbed in talking with her other daughter, Ye-ji starts to sing, slowly, with a broken, longing voice as she remembers the times spent together with her mother:
“On my mom’s way to work
There are white wild roses
The white petals of wild roses
Taste very good.
When I got hungry
I gently picked one
and ate it.
I called you out and ate the rose.”
Also known as ‘multiflora rose’ or ‘rosa multiflora’, among many other names, this flower species is a “scrambling shrub” that is native to Korea and Japan. Don’t be fooled by this seemingly delicate beauty, though; it is considered an ecological threat due to its invasiveness. — Mich & Marion KDL
The meanings of roses vary, depending on their color.
Blue Rose = Miracle
“Guess what the plant’s name means?” asks Yoon Yoo-jung in episode 5 of Fluttering Warning (2018) when showing Cha Woo-hyun her secret garden. “It’s a miracle,” she answers, “Mi-ra-cle.”
— Marion KDL
Green Rose = A Noble Love That Only Exists In Heaven
Oh Soo-ah (Lee Da-hae) asks Lee Jung-hyun (Go Soo) the meaning of the flower in Green Rose (SBS, 2005) and he replies the definition above. — InSoo
Episode 5 of The Master’s Sun (2013) revolves around a grandson who had been dead for 100 days, but the green roses in his room has stayed fresh since then. They say the meaning is “a noble love that only exists in heaven”. — L.C. Lou
Orange Rose = First Love
Louis will give one single orange rose to his first love once he finds her, as he says in episode 8 of Shopping King Louis (2016). — Marion KDL
Apparently, the meanings for the pink rose vary in K-Dramaland. According to Shopping King Louis (2016) it means ‘Happiness’ as he states in episode 8. In final episode 16 of My First First Love (2019), however, Yoon Tae-oh (Ji Soo) tells Han Song-yi (Jung Chae-yeon) that the rose “stands for lovers”.
After hearing that Saet-byul (Kim You-jung) received the ‘Employee of the Month’ title, convenience store manager Dae-hyun (Ji Chang-wook) surprises her with a bouquet of multi-coloured roses in episode 4 of Backstreet Rookie (2020). “I was going to buy you red roses,” he says to her, as she admires her favorite flowers, and explains that the florist had told him what the pink roses meant. “Admiration, gratefulness and faithfulness. I chose that flower because the meaning suited you.” It may have meant all that to Dae-hyun, but to Saet-byul the flower lover, it meant ‘a declaration of love’ — not that he needed to know, of course. — Mich and Marion KDL
Light Pink Rose = Only You Know How I Feel
Baek Kyung (Lee Jae-wook) learns the meaning of flowers as a young boy in Extraordinary You (2019) when Eun Dan-O (Kim Hye-yoon) makes him aware of one of her mum’s sayings that every flower has a meaning. Since then, he always presents her with light pink roses when visiting her (especially at the hospital as seen in episode 21). But when Dan-O asks him what the roses mean, he lies on purpose that he doesn’t know; looking sheepishly at a paper note that says “Only you know how I feel”. — Marion KDL
Lee Chae-rok (Song Kang) buys flowers to visit his mother’s grave in episode 3 of Navillera (2021) and when the florist asks him what occasion the flowers are for, he responds by saying that it’s his mother’s birthday. The florist then recommends “flowers that are not too colorful” and Chae-rok leaves with a bouquet of light pink roses; flowers he had already directly spotted among all other flowers after entering the shop. We could assume that the flowers resonated with him at first sight and he instinctively knew their meaning. — Marion KDL
Red Rose = Passion /Passionate Love
This is according to Shopping King Louis (2016) as he states in episode 8. “Passionate Love” is also how this flower’s meaning is described at Atelier VertVert Flower School where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Marion KDL
Yellow Rose = Jealousy
This is according to Shopping King Louis (2016) as he states in episode 8. He might refer here to the meaning of yellow roses (黄色薔薇) in Japanese Floriography, also known as Kanakotoba (花言葉), where it stands for ‘Jealousy’.
White Rose = Respect, Purity
A white rose means ‘respect’, as Eun Ha-won (Park So-dam) correctly answers Chairman Kang’s (Kim Yong-geon’s) questions in episode 7 of Cinderella and Four Knights (2016). She knows the meaning well because it’s what she had been taught; according to her mother, these are flowers that should be given to people you respect. The chairman then continues to say that Kang Ji-woon (Jung Il-woo) has apparently changed as he had left a laminated white rose behind for his father. In episode 1, we thus see Ha-won with a bouquet of white roses that she brings to the columbarium where her mum is laid to rest. But a white rose is also the string that attaches Ha-won with Ji-woon since they were children. [SPOILER] Then, he had given her a white rose at his mother’s funeral (as he remembers in episode 16), having lost their mothers at the same time.
When Lee Jang-woo (Lee Jae-wook) and Ji Eun-sil (Yang Hye-ji) stand in front of the florist Ggottteurak [꽃뜨락] in episode 13 of When the Weather Is Fine (2020), she points out the white roses in the window to him saying: “Look at those roses… the same ones you gave me a long time ago?” They both then recall when he’d approached her with a bouquet of white roses back in high school, and she asked him if he wants to ask her out like this. “Those roses are white. You must be very kind and innocent, right?” she continued asking him, to which he had responded: “Yes, I am.” She is sorry, but she had already accepted the confession of somebody else just before and tells him that their timing apparently doesn’t match. Back in the present, he asks if she would have already dated him back in the day, and she responds that her answer would have been the same, as she was into bad boys at that time.
Jang-woo might have inspired himself by the meaning of white roses (薔薇) in Japanese Floriography, also known as Kanakotoba (花言葉), where it stands for ‘innocence’, ‘silence,’ and ‘devotion.’ — Marion KDL
“I heard that it means that you want to make up [after a fight] if you give red and white roses together,” says a sincere 20-something Han Jae-hyun (Jin-young of GOT7) to Yoon Ji-soo (Jeon So-nee) in episode 14 of When My Love Blooms (2020). Years later, an older Jae-hyun (Yoo Ji-tae) decides to get a bouquet of the same flowers for Ji-soo (Lee Bo-young), hoping to remind her of this meaning. — Mich KDL
“Forever beautiful” is how this flower’s meaning is described in the shop where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Mich and Marion KDL
Tea bush flowers represents ‘memories’, according to Dam Ryung (Lee Min-ho) in The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016); something he does not have. He offers one to Sim Chung (Gianna Jun) in episode 5 when they both take a stroll in the Boseong Tea Fields. — Marion KDL
This flower constitutes the narrative thread in Extraordinary You (2019) that connects the love-line between Ha-ru (Ro Woon) and Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-Yoon), along with the closely involved Baek Kyung (Lee Jae-wook) in the first part of the drama. “‘Wait’ is what this flower symbolizes,” explains Jin Mi-chae (Lee Tae-ri) to Ha-ru without being asked, in episode 14 (full episode 7). In episode 15 (full episode 8), Ha-ru sees himself buying a trinklet for Dan-oh in
Joseon Goryeo times (thanks, InSoo for the remark!) and the vendor explains to him that the flower on the piece is a trumpet creeper. He goes on to say: “That flower means, ‘Even if the world falls apart and the earth splits up, I will only wait for you.'” This makes Ha-ru buys it immediately. In modern manhwa times, Dan-oh also had presented Baek Kyung, her first manhwa love, with a trinklet that he carries again ten years later. In episode 16 (full episode 8), it becomes clear that this scene is out of a different manhwa called ‘Trumpet Creeper’, which might be the successor of ‘Secret’ (that already has trumpet creepers on its cover too). Still a little later, in episode 23 (full episode 12), Ha-ru explains to Dan-oh that he was probably always attentive to this flower (and crossed paths with it since the very beginning) as its purpose is to remind him to wait for her until she finds him.
If you are looking to visit K-Drama places with trumpet creepers, Jade Garden might be a very fitting location as it not only has these flowers in its garden but it also appears as Dan-o’s mansion in Extraordinary You. — Marion KDL
The source of the trumpet creeper’s symbolism can be found in the Korean folktale Waiting (기다림): a palace maid loves her King but understandably he doesn’t love her back (as she’s just some passing fancy). The palace maid has to move quarters to the deepest place inside the palace. There she was, still waiting for the king but she soon falls ill and dies still loving her King. She leaves a sorrowful testament stating, “I will be waiting for the king who will come tomorrow in my house” and following her burial the following day masses of trumpet flowers were found growing in the dead palace maid’s quarters.
[SPOILER] This folk tale gained attention to Extraordinary You viewers who theorized Baek-kyung (Lee Jae-wook) was the king and Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-yoon) the palace maid. But soon it became clear that the king was actually Geum Jin-mi (Dried Squid Fairy in “Secret”) (Lee Tae-ri) and the palace maid Kim Soo-hyang (in “Secret”) (Lee Ye-hyun) who had similar tragic endings. — Lr
The meanings of tulips vary, depending on their color. But in general, this flower typically stands for the confession of eternal love according to the Naver Dictionary. This is also what the florist of Ggottteurak [꽃뜨락] in When the Weather Is Fine (2020) tells Kim Bo-young (Im Se-mi) when she asks for the symbolic meaning of tulips in episode 13. “Oh, it’s ‘confession of love’,” the florist replies; after which Bo-young leaves the shop with a colorful tulip bouquet and heads in the direction of Im Eun-seob’s (Seo Kang-joon) bookshop. “My one last chance,” she thinks to herself, as she decides to finally confess her bottled-up feelings. — Marion KDL
Red Tulip (빨간색 튤립) = Confession of Love
Dae-hyun (Ji Chang-wook) brings Saet-byul (Kim You-jung) a bouquet of red tulips in episode 13 of Backstreet Rookie (2020), and when asked about its meaning, he tells her quite randomly that it represents the Netherlands. Up on the rooftop with her in episode 14, however, he confesses that he knows the flower’s actual meaning: confession of love. With this bold move, it was up to Saet-byul to decide whether she was brave enough to accept his feelings. — Mich KDL
White Tulip (흰색 튤립) = Lost Love, Forgiveness, Broken Heart
“[…] Lost Love. […] White tulips mean love is lost”, explains the florist in episode 19 of Five Children (2016) and “broken heart” is also mentioned in the Naver Dictionary as these flowers’ meaning. But in episode 15 of Backstreet Rookie (2020), Saet-byul (Kim You-jung) brings Dae-hyun’s father a bouquet of white tulips for his wife, as a way to seek her forgiveness — exactly the meaning of the flowers.
— Marion & Mich KDL
Yellow Tulip (노랑 튤립) = Unrequited love/Vain Love/Cheerful thoughts
Even though yellow tulips seem have been a K-Dramaland flower staple since 2018, end-of-2020 drama True Beauty made them the talk of the town in 2021 –– so much so that Women Economy stated in February 2021 that the interest in these flowers’ meaning has been increasing. Yellow tulips come with several meanings, especially in Victorian flower language. But in K-Dramaland, their meaning is quite stable; possibly due to its reference to Japanese Floriography, also known as Kanakotoba (花言葉), in which yellow tulips (チューリップ) represent ‘one-sided love’. — Marion KDL
Though it’s been said that giving yellow tulips to someone means that you know that they don’t feel the same, that certainly seems quite the opposite when Lee Yeon-nam (Kim Min-gue) gives a bouquet of it to Jung Chung-nam (Kim Hyang-gi) in episode 8 of Drunk In Good Taste (2018).
For Lee Jung-hwan (Go Kyung-pyo) in episode 2 of Private Lives (2020), waiting for Cha Joo-eun (Seohyun) outside her workplace with this bouquet could have been a hit and miss for him, seeing as how he’d not been in touch with her for ages. Thankfully, she relented; he should have been on his best behaviour from then, but we find out eventually that it would be nary the case. — Mich KDL
Won Hae-hyo (Byeon Woo-seok) goes to the flower market in episode 6 of Record of Youth (2020) and buys a bouquet of yellow tulips for his mother and for Ahn Jeong-ha (Park So-dam). He offers the bouquet to Jeong-ha to congratulate her for having become a designer at her make-up company and this is also where he learns that she has started to date his best friend Sa Hye-jun (Park Bo-gum), which she tells him — totally oblivious of his feelings for her. — Marion KDL
After picking up Im Ju-kyeong (Moon Ga-young) with a bouquet of yellow tulips in episode 15 of True Beauty (2020-21), Han Seo-jun (Hwang In-yeop) brings her to a restaurant. Once seated, he tells her: “I’ve liked you for a long time. But back then, I knew you liked someone else. So I never got to ask you out, but I couldn’t give up either. It’s been three years since I’ve felt this way for you. But I can’t kept a secret anymore. I keep finding myself wanting to tell you like I did yesterday. I can’t hide it. I am begging you to see me as a man right now. Sway a little. Just once.” He ends with asking her to go on three dates with him as a girl and guy while the yellow tulips lay on their dining table as witnesses of his one-sided love.
— Marion KDL
While running a flower arrangement class in episode 2 of Mouse (2021), Sung Ji-eun (Kim Jung-nan) notices a teenage boy standing outside her shop. She heads out and sees him staring at a bunch of zinnias, and she tells him: “They symbolize a longing desire to meet the person you miss.” She would soon find out that the boy is Go Mu-chi (Seo Dong-hyun), whose family was mercilessly killed by the serial killer known as the ‘Head Hunter’ many years before — also Ji-eun’s ex-husband.
Though listed as ‘crape myrtles’ in some translations, the actual English name of the flower ‘백일홍’ is Zinnia, which was named after the 18th century German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn. It’s also said to symbolize remembrance and endurance — two of the traits that spurred the adult Mu-chi, a police detective, to continue his quest of avenging his family’s murders. — Mich KDL
Seen other flower sightings in K-dramas? Tell us in the comments!
Apart from flowers in bouquets, people in K-Dramaland also like to walk through flower fields, especially when on a date. Cosmos [코스모스] flower fields are particularly valued — to the extent of even cosmos flower festivals to further appreciate them! As you might remember, episode 13 of Jealousy Incarnate (2016) talks about the flower festival frenzy and Pyo Na-ri (Gong Hyo-jin) is forced to film her weather forecast at the Cosmos Park, even though they know that she won’t be able to take part in the announcer test castings. And yes, who could ever forget these adorable love-birds walking through cosmos flowers on their date at Chilji Park?