One of the most popular festivals in Korea every July is the “Mud Festival”. It’s held in a small town on the west coast of Korea in a city called Boryeong. It’s mainly popular with foreigners, especially the US Military. It started in 1998, and was originally created to promote the benefits from the mud in this area, said to be rich in minerals and very good for the skin. Now, the festival is just an excuse for people to get drunk, go to the beach, and play in the mud area, which includes mud slides, a giant mud pool, and various other activities.
A group of friends went last year, but I had a conflict and couldn’t go. I’d been back and forth about going this year, but decided I wanted to at least see the craziness I’d heard about. My friend Ivetthe and I joined one of the many packaged tours that offered a bus to Boryeong and accommodation. We left early on Saturday morning and settled in for the 4 hour drive to the beach. We arrived about 1pm, and found our room in the pension. Our room was very small and smelled like cigarette smoke and was not very clean, but we weren’t expecting much. We shared the room with two other girls that we didn’t know. We quickly changed into our mud/swim wear and set out for the afternoon. It was extremely hot and sunny outside, and as soon as we got to the beach (Just a 2 minute walk from our room!) we were shocked by how many people we saw. It was overwhelming. Then we walked over to the mud area. It was so packed! The line to get tickets into the “mud pit” was really long, and then once you got your wrist band you had to wait in another line to get into the mud area. Once inside, there were more lines to go on the slides, etc. We decided we didn’t want to mess with all that, so we just went to the beach, layed out for awhile and went into the ocean. The water felt great, but it was SO crowded. People everywhere. I’ve never seen a beach with that many people! After that, we were hungry so we got kebabs and headed back to our room to freshen up and decide what to do for the evening. The beach strip area with restaurants was really small and everywhere was packed with people. There weren’t many options for food, and we quickly got tired of walking around and seeing the same stuff over and over. They had a few outdoor bars set up that seemed nice, lots of cocktail in a bag stands, and a couple kebab stations. There were a ton of seafood restaurants, but they all seemed out of our budget for the weekend so we settled on an outdoor restaurant that had fried chicken and beer. It was a little expensive, but not too bad. It had toilet paper rolls hanging from the ceiling in case you needed a “napkin” which we found pretty funny.
After dinner, we watched a nice firework display on the beach, walked around some more, and ended up heading back to the room around 11 completely defeated. We both were over the crowds and humidity. The next morning we woke up early (floor sleeping does that to you!), and decided to go get something to eat on the beach and try to participate in a little mud fun before it got too crazy. We waited in line for an hour to get painted with colored mud, took pictures, and then sat on the beach until it was nearly time to go. We quickly washed off the mud, packed our things and boarded the bus back to Daegu. Overall, it was an interesting experience, but definitely not amazing. Maybe I am getting too old for these crazy festivals!
I didn’t take many pictures of the craziness, but we noticed hundreds of photographers swarming the area like paparazzi taking pictures of everyone in the mud. If you want to know what it was really like, just google “Korea Mudfest” and click on images.
Here are some of my pictures: