A rare white roe deer has been spotted on a hill in Wonju, Gangwon Province.
Considered a mystical creature here, it's known to be a once-in-a-decade discovery. The deer was first observed by residents in the neighborhood last week. The hill it was spotted on is reported to be close to the city area, surrounded by roads and buildings.
White deer hold a special place in many cultures’ traditions. Appearing in a tale that dates back to 37 BC during the Goguryeo era, Koreans consider a white deer to be sacred and a bringer of good fortune.
Despite its uniqueness, experts say there's a sad story behind the deer's color. The deer found in Wonju is presumed to be suffering from albinism, a rare genetic disorder in which it underproduces melanin, the chemical responsible for skin pigmentation. Deer are normally reddish brown in the summer, and turn pale brown or grey in the winter.
The deer’s white color, which makes it stand out in the wild, could have resulted in it being kicked out from its pack, the expert explained. Wandering around by itself, the deer is thought to have come down from the mountain to the residential area.