News Analysis

Bizarre Festival of Koreans

For two weeks every July, thousands flock from around the Korean peninsula to Boryeong, a small, sleepy town situated on the western coast of the country for the Boryeong Mud Festival, or Mudfest, as it’s colloquially called.

Even more fly in from overseas, some traveling from as far as Europe and the Americas, to experience some good old fashioned mud wrestling, mud sliding and mud swimming, activities that constitute what has in recent years become the number one Korean festival to visit.

But the popular event, which rakes in millions of dollars in revenue annually, has more humble beginnings.

In fact, when it was first established in 1999, the festival was intended to promote cosmetics made from the region’s mud. According to event organizers, Boryeong mud is high in minerals, especially germanium and bentonite, and it emits large amounts of far-infrared rays, which are particularly beneficial for the skin. It didn’t take long, however, for the Spring Break beachside party to outshine the mud beauty marketing.

Spread throughout Daecheon Beach and downtown Boryeong, the festivities generally begin in the morning, when tourists are ferried in by the busload and are dropped off at the beach, which is carefully prepared with loads of mud trucked in from the region’s mud flats.

Various areas, some free, some requiring admission fees are equipped with mud pits, mud fountains, mud pools, mud massage zones and even a mud prison, all of which are guaranteed to have you looking like a mud monster by the day’s end.

A one-day pass will get you in to all the ticketed events and areas, such as the inflatable playgrounds, obstacle courses, mud slides and races.

In addition to muddy merriment, there are also plenty of squeaky clean events to partake in, like fireworks displays and live performances during the festival’s opening and closing ceremonies.

Other highlights include the festival’s Black Eagles Show with the Korean Air Force and a slew of parades. Those in the mood for a friendly sports match can partake in the Beach Mud Football Competition at the Citizen Tower Sandy beach site on July 29.

Titilayo Kupoliyi

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