Korean Festivals: Jeju Fire Festival

Spring is here! At least on Jeju Island, the biggest and most culturally famous Island in South Korea, where the Fire festival is now over. The Jeju fire festival, previously called Jeongwol Daeboreum, took place in the beginning of March this year and it represents the arrival of spring. It started with the tradition to burn the old and wilted grass called “banggae” which later developed into an official festival in 1997. It has since gotten many acknowledgements such as being ranked high in the top 50 festivals in Korea thanks to the representation of the Jeju culture as well as the wide range of different programs during the festival. In 1999 it was also named to be the major festival of the winter half year on Jeju Island.

There are over 60 different activities, concerts and contests to be part of in the mere four days the festival is held. It starts with an opening ceremony with various performances. For example there are the Jeju Citizens Fire Fringe performances and a flashmob for prosperity dedicated to the theme of the festival, which this year was “the hopeful rejuvenation of fire spreads throughout the world”. Other performances apart from the opening ceremony are two concerts; The Music concert and the Jeju Fire Festival Early Spring Concert which often contains traditional Korean singing and dancing. Many of the activities and performances are inspired from traditional Korean culture but the festival is also very modern with the more regular Music concert.

Since the festival is called the Fire festival many activities are related to that subject. For example the torch marching is very significant for the Fire Festival and it is said that the marching itself brings good fortune. One can also walk the Jeju Sorigil which is a famous road of sounds, one of the very special things that makes Jeju Island such a tourist attraction. Other activities to be a part of during the festival is trying Flying Kite of the Fire Field, Oreum hiking or Horseback Riding. Sports contests are also held, one of them called Deomdoldelgi Contest. The contestants are mainly tourist and foreigners. They are given very heavy stones and the person who can carry them the longest distance is the winner.

On the last day, 8th of March this year, the ending ceremony was held containing various performances and events and as every year the last event is a spectacular firework show that wraps up the Jeju Fire Festival.