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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring is in the air and so are festivals in Korea!

By Nicole Brewer

It’s that time of year in Korea, where there is a festival almost every other weekend throughout this festival loving country.  Last weekend down in Busan I attended the Kite Festival located on Dadaepo Beach.  While the weather was still a bit chilly, it was nice to see the array of beautiful colors of kites with families alike having a fun day at the beach.  One of the best things about living in Busan is its abundance of beaches we have here. There are six including the infamous haeundae beach which toots the world record for the most beach umbrellas in the world, who knew.   

Now that spring is finally making its presence in Korea, the country is revitalizing its festivities for families and travelers.  From April 1st through April 10th the gorgeous city of Jinhae will host it’s annual Cherry Blossom festival.  I attended this beautiful festival last year with my coworker and it was a great delight to view the hundreds of cherry blossoms on trees throughout the city. When the winds blew, cherry blossom petals surrounded you in the streets.  
Nicole with Sam teacher at the Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival.

They will also have a fireworks display and the Jinhae Military Band & Honor Guard Festival  runs concurrently with the festival.   There are also 3 other Cherry Blossom festivals running during this time in April in Jeju, Cheongpung and Hwagae if you can’t make it the infamous Jinhae festival which usually host over 2 million visitors.  It was a feat managing to get a seat on the bus from Busan so take note to give yourself more then enough time for transportation (get to the station at least 2 hours early as there was a winding line last time).

Beginning April 19th until April 26th is the International  Women’s Film Festival in Seoul.  More than 120 films from 30 countries will be screened this year, including shorts, documentaries and films made by migrant women living in Korea.  Very sensitive issues such as breast cancer and the global scale of the nuclear crisis will be covered here so this is will be an event you do not want to miss.  It will run at  various venues in Seoul, including Shinchon Artreon theater, Korean Film Archive, CGV Songpa, and Ewha Womans University.

From April 18th through April 22nd is the Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival located in the Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. In addition to the 100 or so bullfighting competitions in the festival, it will include a US rodeo featuring members of the armed forces who are stationed in Korea and a performance by the US rodeo team. Tickets for the event are 4,000 won for adults and 3,000 for children.  

Woman speaking to news crew with her fish caught at the Eobang festival.
My last recommendation for some spring fun would be to attend the annual Gwangalli Eobang Festival in my beloved Busan.  It is held from April 27th to April 29th. The festival is a celebration of both the spring and the ocean. The word ‘Eobang’ describes the spirit of the fishermen in the coastal regions.  Here you can sample various seafood dishes such as sashimi, take part in cooking competitions and also check out the traditional Korean parade.  The kids play various traditional Korean games also. 

One of the coolest aspects of this festival for me was the bare hands fishing competition. Last year I watched many kids and adult kids alike jump into big pools of water and attempt to catch many kinds of fish swimming around in the pool. To say this was entertaining would be an understatement.  Also later in the evening they pull in a huge net that sat out in the ocean all day to bring in a batch of fish. Once it is drawn in it is a free for all of local residents trying to catch their own fish! So these are my top suggestions of spring fun activities to partake in while in Korea.  For more details on directions to these locations check out the official travel site of Visit Korea

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