“This Land Is Your Land” — some unexpected Americana to cap our Korean road
For all seasons
Festivals throughout the year offer insights into Korean culture.
In wintertime, the Sancheoneo Ice Festival in the Hwacheon area offers opportunities to ice fish for freshwater trout in
the Hwacheon Stream.
In the spring, the Traditional Chasa-
bal Festival in Mungyeong celebrates that
city’s trademark chasabal tea bowls.
Summer brings the Gangjin Celadon
Festival, commemorating Gangjin’s legacy as a producer of high-end pottery, and
the Boryeong Mud Festival, where celebrants get down and dirty at the Mud Super Slide, Hip Hop and Global Rave Party
and other events on Daecheon Beach.
For more information on South Korea’s
festivals in the fall and throughout the
year, visit the Korea Tourism Organization’s website at http://english.visitkorea
Gimje to Jinju, site of a festival celebrating a pivotal 1592 battle, in which 3,800
Korean soldiers held off an attack by a
20,000-strong Japanese army at Fort Jin-juseong.
The festival’s principal display commemorates this event with cartoonish
light-up figures, slightly less than life-size: The gruesome battle scenes looked a
little silly in broad daylight, but the overall effect was more impressive once everything was illuminated at sundown.
In addition to the fortress display, illuminated works inspired by pop culture
and folk tales from around the world
were anchored in the placid waters of
the Namgang River. In the evening, we
set adrift paper lanterns inscribed with
our wishes, in tribute to the lanterns the
Korean army used to communicate with
each other during the battle.
Andong Mask Dance Festival
Our final festival stop was Andong,
about three hours outside of Seoul and
home to the Hahoe Folk Village, a Unesco
World Heritage site.
This was the largest and arguably most
ambitious of the festivals, with all of the
diversions of a state fair in the U.S.: tons
of vendors offering junk food and cheap
merchandise; kids’ rides and face painting; and even a few carny-style productions, such as the “Exorcism Ground”
where a female priest, performing a
whirling-dervish act to a droning, percussive soundtrack, solicited onlookers for
cash (about $10) in exchange for some
In the evening, we gathered in an amphitheater for the festival’s titular performance, featuring troupes representing
member countries of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations.
The mostly wordless, high-energy acts
were easy to follow, though brochures
and commentary in English explained the
themes of each group’s performance.
Toward the end of the show, a troupe
from the Philippines took center stage, offering an athletic performance to a dance-club-ready remake of Woody Guthrie’s
A Cambodian troupe, one of several groups representing
member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, performing at the Andong Mask Dance Festival.
Displays at the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival commemorate a 1592 battle where 3,800 Korean soldiers held
off an attack by a 20,000-strong Japanese army.