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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Coming up in Ulsan!

By Deirdre Madden

Festival season is upon us, and Ulsan is getting ready to host several events celebrating the area’s traditions.

April 25th-28thUlsan Whale Festival. This controversial festival is held at the end of April every year to celebrate Ulsan’s heritage as a whaling city (not problematic) and it’s current whaling culture (problematic). The petroglyphs at Bangeodae are evidence of a whaling culture here going back to Neolithic times, when men in canoes would hunt whales with spears – an impressive feat. Though Korea has recently abandoned plans to restart catching whales under the “scientific experiment” loophole in the international whaling ban, there are still people who exploit the fishing “by-catch” practice, in which fishermen may or may not intentionally set nets in whale migratory routes in order to “accidentally” catch, kill and sell them to whale restaurants. The festival offers whale meat for sale. Please remember that buying it actively supports the inhumane practice of whaling. There are reinactments of Neolithic whale hunts and whale watching tours near Jangsaengpo, and other cultural activities in the Taehwa Park.

A non-controversial way to get involved is to join in the Whale Boat Races, a fundraiser for T-Hope Korea’s new Women’s Shelter Project. Teams of 18-20 people will compete Saturday morning in fun races. Come down to the Taehwa River Park (next to the Taehwa bridge) to cheer, or sign up via the above link. All proceeds from this event will go directly towards building a women’s shelter for battered and abused women in Ulsan.

To get there – The Taehwa Park is under and beside the Taehwa Bridge and Rotary. Use the UlsanOnline bus route by destination, and type in “Taehwa” (don’t hit enter) – there are about 20 buses that go past Taehwa Rotary bus stops. There’s also a shuttle bus between the Taehwa Park, the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum, City Hall and the Lotte Hotel.

Ulsan is also host to the Onggi Festival, May 2nd-5th. Nothing controversial here – it’s all about pottery. Particularly, it’s about the traditional Korean Onggi, which are the brown clay pots used for fermenting kimchi and other food. There are lots of hands-on activities, cultural events and even a concert. It’s held at the Onggi Village in Oegosan, on Hwy 24, towards Busan. To get there, take 507 or 715 bus from the stop across from the Lotte Express Bus Terminal (same side of the road as Bennigans/Outback). Get off at Gosan Village Bus Stop. (고산마을; Gosan Maeul). The official site is Korean only.

May 4th-10th, the Professional Windsurfers’ Association International Tour will hit Jinha Beach. Every year, windsurfers  from around the world converge on Jinha Beach to take advantage of the perfect conditions. Go out and support your national team. Just be prepared for the sand-blasting wind-blown look. Perfect conditions for windsurfing are not ideal for picnicing on a sandy beach, unless you like your food extra-crunchy (and I don’t mean in a granola kind of way). Jinha Beach is just past the Industrial Complex, on the south side of Ulsan city. Buses 405, 715 and 1715 go past.

May 17th-18th – the T-Hope Rock and Row Dragon Boat Festival will take to the Taehwa River, in support of the Women’s Shelter Project. Gathering teams from all over Korea, this festival will be two fun filled days of river-sports and international cooperation. Festival activities will include food and music, a beer garden and more.

May 17th-18th – The Ulsan Cup soccer tournament will be taking place at the Sibrideabat riverside pitches in Taehwadong. Teams from all over Korea will be gathering to compete in this event that has taken place since 2008. Go out and support the local Won Shot Wanderers as they defend their title.

May 17th is also Buddha’s Birthday in Korea, so every temple will be covered from head to toe with lanterns, in celebration. It’s a great time to get amazing photographs, day or night. It’s best to go a week or so before the 17th, though, as on the day, the temples will be absolutely packed with people, and often the lanterns are taken down as soon as the festivities are over. Tongdosa, Seoknamsa and Unmunsa are some beautiful temples out in the mountains around Eonyang, but there are temples in the city that put up a nice display, too. There is a huge temple, Jung-gwang-sa, on the road between the Shinbok Rotary and the Taehwa Rotary that goes all out with their lanterns. Jason Teale, UlsanOnline’s resident photographer, wrote an article on his photography site, The Sajin, with great tips on taking the best photos at this time of year.

May 18th-19thTogether Day and Multicultural Festival, Taehwa River Park. A weekend of celebrating Ulsan’s growing multicuturalism. There will be booths for many of the different countries, lots of food, cultural performances, etc. Head down to check out the diversity of Ulsan! (I can’t find a website for this festival, but check out last year’s review).

Lots to do in Ulsan over the next few weekends! Hope to see you out there!