November 12, 2012
The Best Festival in Korea?: The Jinju Lantern Festival
If you’ve been reading for a while, you may know that Korean festivals and I have a rocky relationship. Mainly due to the fact that festivals can be called festivals whilst a) not being a festival and b) having zero relation to the supposed theme of the festival.
It was then with caution but a glimmer of hope that I approached the Jinju Lantern Festival, named by the Korean tourism board as the number 1 festival in all of South Korea – ahead of even the Boryeong Mud Festival.
After an eventful bus ride to Jinju – the police boarded the bus due to suspected ticket fraud from a group of foreigners (turns out they hit the “cancel” button after printing tickets on the Korean booking website, rather than “close”) – Gil Dong and I arrived in the city and breathed a sigh of relief.
A festival. An actual festival with an obvious theme, activities related to the festival, and a rather pretty location to top it all off.
Gil Dong and I had decided not to stay the night in Jinju, and that meant catching the last bus back to Daejeon which unfortunately was at the too-early time of 7.10pm, which resulted in us only briefly being able to see the lanterns lit up at night.
Even without the night sky as a backdrop, the lanterns were pretty impressive, and we also made time to wander around a fortress in the city, as well as have a brief panic when Gil Dong thought he’d lost his wallet, called up to cancel his cards, only for it to be returned the second he hung up the phone by one of the barristas in Caffe Benne.
Faux-wallet-losing antics aside, the festival was exactly what I expected the reputed best festival in Korea to be. Fun, distinctly Korean, and with unique twists – you could walk across the river on makeshift floating walkways to get closer to the lanterns, for example – the Jinju Lantern Festival has restored my faith (but not completely erased my caution) that there are those in Korea who understand the concept of a festival.
So there you have it folks! Now, I want to hear from you. What do you think of the photos here? Does the festival look like your kind of thing? Are there any other festivals in Korea that you rate highly? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter.