Netflix Just Accidentally Created A National Monument

Sometimes real life and fiction collide.

By Michileen Martin | Published

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Sometimes real life and fiction collide, and right now Netflix and the makers of the South Korean drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo are learning an interesting lesson about those kinds of collisions. Because of the series, which premiered on Netflix in late June, a tree that started growing before the United States of America even existed will have national protection in South Korea forever. Featured in the new series, a 500-year-old hackberry tree has been declared a National Natural mMonument in South Korea.

As Deadline reports, the half-millenia old tree in the South Gyeongsang Province had already been granted protected status in 2015 by the city of Changwon, but now the South Korean government plans to designate it a Natural Monument. The usually quiet spot in Dongbu Village has been receiving a lot of unexpected visitors after the immense tree was featured on Extraordinary Attorney Woo. At least 70 residents in Dongbu reported a surge in daily visitors since the series premiered. You can see a picture of the hackberry tree below.

According to The Korean Herald, the 500-year-old tree boasts a circumference of 22 feet, stands over 52 feet tall, and has a crown spread of over 88 feet. It was featured in the two-part Extraordinary Attorney Woo episode “A Tale About Sodeok-Dong” when the show’s protagonist succeeds in winning Natural Monument status for the tree. Considering the show’s popularity and reach, the fact that the real life tree has attracted such attention in South Korea shouldn’t be a shock.

The tree seems like a good candidate for such protection, regardless of its presence in Extraordinary Attorney Woo. The large tree was once viewed as a guardian by the villagers of Dongbu and a temple named Danseonam was built nearby.

However, The Korean Herald also reports that a number of residents of Dongbu don’t think Extraordinary Attorney Woo has done them any favors. The site says that once the tree’s status as a National Natural Monument is finalized, South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Protection Act will mark off up to a 500 meter radius around the tree as a conservation area. That means it will be extremely difficult to obtain building permits for anything within that 500 meters; meanwhile 70 residents from 37 households live within 200 meters of the tree. Presumably, that means–for example–if someone’s home falls within the conservation area and they need a permit to add an addition to their house, they may not be able to get it.

Now, if you’re thinking “what is Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” you’re not alone. In the United States, the show hasn’t even entered the overall Top 10 streamed series. However, as Deadline reported earlier this week, it’s been in the top spot on Netflix’s Top 10 list of Non-English series for six weeks straight. Globally it’s currently the #5 most streamed series on Netflix; just between Never Have I Ever and Manifest. In the series Park Eun-bin plays the autistic lawyer Woo Young-woo whose eidetic memory helps her in her legal career.