July 18, 2018
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South Korea
The Boryeong Mud Festival

Big sloppy beach blowout

WHAT: Boryeong Mud Festival WHERE: Daecheon, South Korea (120 miles northeast of Seoul) WHEN: One week in mid-July. In 2009: July 11-19. WHY: Fun clean and dirty

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://mudfestival.or.kr/lang/en/index.jsp

UNOFFICIAL FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?sid=e594c73366c82afc1973ce45c8903b69&gid=22234763616&ref=search

Daecheon mud supposedly contains minerals good for your skin. About a decade ago, after city leaders realized they could make more money selling that mud as a tourist attraction than they could by using it in farming, the Boryeong Mud Festival was born (Boryeong being another name for the Daecheon area).

The annual festival attracts about a million visitors each year. Most are Korean, but there are plenty are foreigners, too.

It’s an odd clash between two views on mud: clean and dirty.

Korean families view it as a day at the beach, were you have fun covering each other in mud to get beautiful skin. Most foreigners — chiefly English teachers from Anglo countries, and U.S. military personnel stationed around the region — view it as a chance to drink and listen to concerts, and to rub down pretty ladies.

To foreigners like me, teaching in rural Korean towns where the social structure seems reminiscent of 1950s America, stepping off the bus can feel surreal, like when Dorothy landed in Oz. There’s overwhelming color and vibrancy. You see throngs of tourists, bouncy castles and barbecues — and giant vats of watery mud. You can wade in lukewarm waist-high mud in the pool; cover fellow “prisoners” with the stuff in a rope-barred mud prison; and slip down a hundred-foot high plastic mudslide that drops gently into the sea.

Boryeong doubles as a cultural festival, so people in traditional costumes parade past the tourists, playing drums. Invited to join, the occasional sweaty, mud-covered tourist in flip flops will grab a drum or a pair of cymbals, and dance along.

But the big attraction is the beach. Buckets of mud, and brushes, are set up upon row after row of tables along the shore. The idea is to paint yourself, or your neighbor, in a lavish coat of mud, then dry in the sun and wash off in the ocean.

The town I taught in was relatively small, the kind of place where everyone knew everyone else’s business. It was also far away. I considered myself on a hedonistic holiday from stultifying village life.

As I started removing my watch, I noticed out of the corner of my eye someone who looked familiar.

As I prepared to strip down to a bathing suit and be coated in mud by a stranger, I realized that a student of mine was standing about five feet to my right.? She was grinning broadly, and accompanied by her entire family.

I decided to cover myself in mud.

MORE INFO

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Headquarters TIC
40, Cheongyecheonno, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-180
9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tel: 082-2-7299-497 ext. 499
24-hour travel info line: 082-2-1330

5 comments about “The Boryeong Mud Festival”

  1. KrisBelucci says:

    Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

  2. Susan says:

    The official website has been changed!

    http://www.mudfestival.or.kr/index.html

    Click on Eng at the top!

  3. Kelly Brown says:

    Hi, interest post. I’ll write you later about few questions!

  4. ?ompiling says:

    And in what here sense?

  5. Fluffydreamer says:

    Fine and delightful post!!! Thanks!!! Kind to you of day… Happiness… Pleasure and good luck!!!

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