Jinju Lantern Festival

Jinju Lanter Festiva South Korea

The Jinju Lantern Festival kicked off this past weekend (October 3rd) and goes on until next weekend (October 11th). Next Friday is also a public holiday (it's Hangul Day!) making it a long weekend for everyone here in Korea. Here are photographs from the festival last year. We drove there from our town (Buan) and had underestimated the traffic that comes with festivals here in Korea. Sometimes, especially when it comes to festivals here in Korea, it can end up being easier to just take a bus instead of driving. We had no choice but to drive as we had just rescued Shadow and had planned on camping for the night, therefore needing lots of space for all our camping gear.

We had already planned to go to the festival before we found Shadow, and so our poor little pup had to just put up with the fireworks and hustle and bustle of people. There were so many people at the festival, but it was still a good experience. We ended up caping on a spot of green that we could see on our iPhone map, which turned out to be the plush, very well cared for, front lawn of a Public Library! We woke up as soon as we heard the first library visitors and packed up as fast as we could, and hurried on down to the water front to have breakfast.

You can 'technically camp' anywhere in Korea (we have camped on abandoned tennis courts, closed roads, river streams, near train lines and in a golf course parking lot!) as long as you clean up after yourself. I wouldn't say it's actually legal to camp on library laws or golf courses where we have camped, but we usually leave before anyone can find us, and make sure to leave the place spotless so no one would know we were even there. Click here to see more posts on camping in Korea.


The festival is all along the Namgang River:

626, Namgang-ro, Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do
경상남도 진주시 남강로 626 (본성동)

By bus: Take an intercity bus to Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal.
Exit the terminal towards the river.
Turn right, and walk for 5min to arrive at the festival site.

Jindo Island Sea Parting Festival

Jindo Island Sea Parting Festival Korea

Once a year in Korea, during the Spring and as a result of tidal activity (you're going to have to ask the physicists? botanists? scientists?) the sea parts for nearly 3 kilometres and an almost 40 meter wide road of ocean floor opens up between Jindo Island and Modo Island. This 'Miracle Sea Road' as it is called here in Korea, attracts people from all over to the world to witness the literal parting of the seas. This year the seas parted 3 times over one weekend and we had planned to be there for the first parting at 5h30 in the morning.

I say planned because that was our intention, however as someone set their alarm for 3am and not 2am (I'm not mentioning any names here lol) and we live 2.5 hours away, even driving at break neck speed and getting everyone up and out the door in 15 minutes, we still managed to miss the spectacular Miracle Road by a full half an hour. We still made it in time for the sunrise and even had enough time to stand on a patch of mud and pose in front of Modo Island before the tide came in, so all was not lost. We may not have any photographs in thigh high red and yellow gum boots but there's always next year for that.

Jindo Island is also the home of the famous Korean Jindo dog. Our little #ShadowTheJindo, being a Jindo (or at least a mix of Jindo and something else we can't pin down) was of course brought along on this trip to meet his brothers and sisters and pay homage to his roots. Shadow is a Black & Tan Jindo, one of the rarest (or in Korea, the most undesirable of coat colours) with white and brown being by far the most popular. The Jindo Sea Parting Festival offers a number of Jindo Dog Shows over the weekend and the one we watched was quite enjoyable. Jindo's are not known for being show performers, rather known for their very wilful nature and so it was quite funny to watch the dogs stubbornly refusing to listen to their handlers instructions to paint and take items to and from a refrigerator, unless it suited them. Yes, this quite sums up our Shadow. 

As with all Korean festivals there were loads of food stalls and lots to see and do. We were there from 6am until early afternoon, managing a few naps on the beach in between trips to the food stalls. Also, if it takes your fancy, you can pick and gather any and all bits of sea life you find along your walk through the sea. This isn't exactly environmentally friendly, but if you do want some fresh sea snails in your ramen soup then by all means go ahead, everyone else will be doing it. 

Jindo is an island just off Mokpo on the South West Coast. There are signs posted all along the way once you get to Jindo (if you are driving).

If you are taking a bus here are some directions from the Jindo Bus Terminal:

From Jindo Bus Terminal, take the Gagye-Hoedong (가계, 회동) or Songgun-Hoedong (송군, 회동) bus 
-Get off at Hoedong (회동).
-Go 40m along the sea to reach the festival venue.

There are two areas to the festival, the one with all the food stalls that is right by the main parking lot. And then the other section that hosts a lot of the shows and has the main stage is near the actual sea parting. To get to that section you will be asked to pay a few (it was W5 000 and included vouchers of that value to use to purchase food at drinks at some of the stalls).

Have you ever been to to the Jindo Sea Parting Festival before? Did you enjoy the experience? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

The Hanji Paper Festival in Wonju


A few weekends ago we headed up to Gangwon Province in the north of Korea to see the Hanji Festival in Wonju. It was a rather far drive to make, but we were rewarded with a rather pleasant festival experience as there were very few people, unlike the rest of the festivals we have been to so far (Fall Leaves in Naejangsan and the Spring Flowers in Gwangyang). 

Hanji  literally means “the paper of Korea”. The main material is the fibrous skin of the mulberry. Hanji is not simply paper, as it is used in a variety of ways. Each different way has a different name according to its use.

"The manufacturing process of Korean paper is complicated, slow and laborious. The dry mulberry is cut after the frost has arrived and is peeled off after steaming. It is immersed in water for one day and, after being dried under sunlight, the bark is peeled off, steamed again inside an iron pot and immersed in caustic soda. The steamed bark is smashed inside a stone mortar after the water has been squeezed out. Then it is rinsed in water after being placed inside a wrapper. The washed mulberry is mixed with water and a natural adhesive. Next, the fibres are strained through a bamboo screen, which is shaken back and forth to create a crisscross pattern of fibres. The pulp is then dried by stacking it on a wooden panel and placed in the sun, completing the process." Korea Tourism

It was really interesting seeing how the paper is made, and seeing all the different ways it's used. A lot of the lanterns here in Korea are made with Hanji. The festival was over a 4 days, so even though it's over now you might want to visit next year (see info on how to get there at the end if his post).

This was also our first weekend away with our new puppy, Shadow (full post to come on him soon) and it was a rather interesting learning experience being around other people and lots of noise while carrying a new puppy. 

How to Get There:

151, Hanjigongwon-gil, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 원주시 한지공원길 151 (무실동)

-From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus bound for Wonju.
-From Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a taxi to Hanji Theme Park.
Take bus 2-1 at the bus stop located across from Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal.
Get off at Youth Center (청소년수련관). Walk 10min toward Hanji Theme Park.

Autumn Festivals in Korea 2014


Summer will slowly be drawing to a close here in Korea, and with that we can expect a break from the humidity and of course something that Korea is very famous for, it's Autumn/Fall foliage.

Here is a list of upcoming festivals to look forward to in September & October. The leaves won't be turning yet, that happens towards mid November, but there are enough interesting things to see before that happens.

September 2014

25th September – 28th September Wonju Hanji Festival in Wonju (Traditional Korean Paper)

Hanji Theme Park in Wonju-si, Gangwon-do

26th September - 5th October Andong Maskdance Festival

Downtown Andong, Talchum Park, Hahoe Village and surrounding areas in Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do



26th September - October 5th Suncheon Bay Reeds Festival

Suncheon Bay in Dongcheon, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do



October 2014

1st October - 12th October Jinju Lantern Festival

Namgang River in Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do

1st October - 5th October Gimje Horizon Festival

Byeokgolje in Gimje-si, Jeollabuk-do

1st October - 5th October Anseong Namsadang Baudeogi Festival

Anseong Matchum Land in Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do

Source: VisitKorea

Source: VisitKorea

2nd October - 11 October Busan International Film Festival

Theater District in Nampo-dong, Suyeong Bay Yachting Center, Haeundae Beach, and other locations in Busan

Busan InternationalFilmFestival

3rd October - 9th October Mungyeong Traditional Chasabal Festival (Traditional Tea Bowls)

Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park in Gyeongsangbuk-do

Source: VisitKorea

Source: VisitKorea

October 4th - October 8th Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival

Jungoe Park in Buk-gu, Gwangju



23rd October - 26th October Jeonju Bibimbap Festival

Jeonju Hanok Village in Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do

Source: VisitKorea

Source: VisitKorea

Thank you to Visit Korea for the above information. 

Maehwa Spring Flower Festival in Gwangyang, South Korea

Traditionally one of Korea’s first spring flower festivals, Maehwa Village’s 83 acres of apricot trees cover the Baegunsan mountains with their white blossoms - Discover Korea

This past weekend marked the start of the spring blossoms here in South Korea. One of the first festivals is in Gwangyang (South Jeolla Province) about a 1.5 hour bus ride from Gwangju in Seomjin Village. Farmboy and I headed there last minute on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the pretty blossoms. As with most Korean festivals, we were left disappointed. Not disappointed with the actual blossoms (they were gorgeous!) but with the festival in general. There were so many people. The buses were delayed. The food on offer left a lot to be desired, and everything was over priced. I mean W3000 ($3 for a small can of Sprite?!). But, I'm glad we went along, even if just to remind ourselves of why we visit the beauty that South Korea has to offer on days before and after the designated festival dates.

It took us over 6 bus rides in total to get to Gwangyang, but that's only because we live in the sticks. From the Gwangyang Bus Terminal there is a shuttle bus to Maewwa that goes around the hour which costs W3600 a person. The timetable for the shuttle is on the hour every hour for the festival weekends, but we were able to get standing spots for the 30 minute journey at random intervals between the allocated shuttle times. From the festival grounds, we were able to buy return tickets all the way back to Gwangju. As the weather was so nice it turned out to be a great day. If you are thinking about going, make sure to pack a picnic and try to get there early, before the rest of Korea!


33, Sicheong-ro, Gwangyang-si, Jeollanam-do

전라남도 광양시 다압면 지막1길 55

For more detailed info visit www.gwangyang.co.kr

Autumn in South Korea {Naejang Mountain, Jeungeup, Korea}

Here are some photographs from our trip to one of the most famous mountains to see the Autumn leaves here in Korea; Naejang Mountain. We were told that the weekend we had decided to go was THE weekend to see the leaves, and although you can't really tell from the photographs (I am a bit of an artist at concealing unwanted elements!) the WHOLE of Korea seemed to be with us to see the colourful show of nature.

It was spectacular, we simply have nothing like this back home in South Africa, and I literally had to be dragged away from each and every tree (you can only have so many photographs of leaves I was told).