Giant rice crane urges South Koreans to 'Cheer Up!'

Suncheon (South Korea) (AFP) –


Across a vast sprawl of paddy fields on South Korea's southern tip, a giant crane made out of rice plants urges the country to "Cheer Up!" in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The slogan in Suncheon, 320 kilometres (198 miles) south of Seoul, is made up of different varieties of rice, planted to create shapes in the crop when viewed from above -- even though the effect is invisible from the ground.

The images, an annual promotional effort, are designed and planted by local children and farmers.

As well as the crane, a huge ladybird symbolises low-pesticide agriculture -- the insects' numbers plummet when such chemicals are used.

Others include another crane and a fish, both local mascots, and a farmer ploughing with an ox.

No fewer than 500 scarecrows in traditional traditional hanbok dress, have been deployed around the fields to protect the art from the depredations of hungry birds.

The project requires months of planning, said Suncheon farmer Hyun Young-soo, 63.

"Primary and middle school students, members of various groups in the district, merchants and many others have all come together," he told AFP, "right from the beginning of planting the crops till the end of harvesting".