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:
Jinju's very own Dancing Queen. A real crowd pleaser!
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.
My favourite season is upon us here on the Korean peninsular. The evenings are cool, the days are sunny and warm. The festivals have started in full force. The trees are putting on a show of red, yellow, brown and orange. Classrooms aren’t stuffed full of sweaty smelling boys. Scarves and hats and chunky knitted jumpers are donned as we make the (hopefully) slow start into winter.
It’s October already. Autumn is here. When did that happen?
While we are on the subject of seasons it must be noted how proud Korean people are of their 4 seasons. They will curiously ask ‘Are there 4 seasons in your country?’ And don’t seem too convinced when you tell them that yes there are, but that the seasons aren’t so extreme. We do get spring flowers. It does get cold in winter, we even have snow. Imagine that!
With that being said I must admit that the seasons here in Korea are, compared to what I know, very admirable.
Mt Sorak ablaze with colour
Especially autumn. Seeing the mountains, which make up 70% of Korea, ablaze with colour is amazingly beautiful.
Finally we can actually go outdoors without getting our clothes soaked, either by our own sweat or the torrential downpours. Which means only one thing: FESTIVALS!
The autumn season is over run with festivals. This weekend it was the Lantern Festival in Jinju (more about that soon), next weekend it’s the Mask Dance festival in Andong, the International Film Festival in Busan, Global Gathering in Seoul. Next it’ll be the Fireworks in Busan… you get my point. And those are only naming a few of them! (See all of them here). There is a festival for everything and for anyone. It’s fantastically great.
So with that: welcome autumn. It’s going to be a busy one!
Posted in Korea
Tagged Andong, Autumn, Busan, festivals, fireworks, Jinju, Korea, leaves, October, seasons, weekend