This past weekend was a long weekend thanks to the 3 October public holiday called National Foundation Day, or in Korean, Gaecheonjeol. It is the day when Koreans celebrate the mythological origins of Korea.
Anyway, what it really meant to me was a 3 day weekend! So I decided to head south to Jinju city to see the opening of the Lantern Festival.
Jinju is built on the banks of the Namgang River, the perfect place for floating hundreds of enormous lanterns. And with the Jinjuseong Fortress with a backdrop, you certainly can’t ask for too much more. Well, maybe fewer people would’ve been nice!
The festival seems to be enormously popular, and it only started to annoy me when everyone gathered to watch the official turning-on-of-the-lights and the accompanying firework show. The crowds on the river banks were thick, and in true Korean fashion, pushy. But all annoyances were forgotten when the river was illuminated and the sky was filled with the sound of exploding lights. The Koreans sure know their stuff when it comes to lights!
One of the fun things about festivals is the huge variety of foods available. My favourite is the promise of pajeon and makoli. It feels like real festival food to me! They also have a wide variety of fried goods on sticks – potato, hot dogs, processed meat slabs, corn dogs. The typical chicken nuggets and chicken skewers. Corn. Bondaegi a.k.a. boiled silkworm pupa. Candy floss. And I’m sure I saw sea snails boiling next to the bondaegi?
It was also fun bumping into this guy:
It really was a great festival with so much to see and do and eat and drink. And I am glad that I braved the crowds, paid the highly inflated price for a place to sleep and took the bus down to Jinju to experience this festival. If you want more information take a look at their website.