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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Summer Festivals around Korea

By Deirdre Madden

It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s muggy and steamy and sweltering. But your apartment is boring, and the tv shows you download are on hiatus until fall, so you might as well get out and explore the countryside. Relief from the heat can be found on the beaches, or in mountain streams, well away from the toxic sweat of the city. So head for the hills (or seashore) and check out these festivals all over the peninsula (well, not the North part, obviously).

In Ulsan, you can head to the Shipbuilding and Sea Festival out at Ilsan Beach. The month-long festival includes concerts on the beach, boat making events, fishing and sand-sculpture contests and more. Runs from June 28-July 29

We also have the Ulsan Summer Festival out at Jinha Beach, July 21-29, though it’s been difficult to find information for this online.

Further afield is the Boryeong Mud Festival, held from July 14th-24th. This festival, which is basically like a big Spring Break party, only you’re also covered in mud, has made it onto numerous international “must do” festival lists, along with things like running with bulls in Spain and tomato fights in Italy. To get to Boryeong from Ulsan, you have to head to Daejeon and take a bus or train from there. Keep in mind, everyone goes to this, so accomodation is booked well in advance.

If you’re looking for culture over muddy boozing, try the Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival, from July 26-29. The festival takes place around a lotus pond that dates to the Baekje era, approximately BC 18-AD 660. Activities are lotus themed. Follow that up with a trip to the Muan White Lotus Festival, near Mokpo on the same weekend, and check out the rare white lotus.

If Taekwondo is your thing, check out the Taekwondo Culture Expo in Muju, Jeollabukdo from July 6-11th. Over 2000 athletes from 31 countries are expected, and it will focus on all kinds of things to do with kicking peoples asses.

Check out the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in Bucheon from July 19-29. This film festival is beginning to attract international attention, and is likely easier to get tickets for than BIFF in Busan in the fall.

The Great Mountains International Music Festival and School is a classical music festival held in Gangwondo. The school operates year round, training classical musicians, and the festival showcases both the students and others talents. It’s held from July 21st to August 11th at the Alpensia Resort, near Hoenggye.

Hamyang Wild Ginseng Festival gives you a chance to dig for your own ginseng, and then turn it into alcohol! Of course, as ginseng pretty much tastes like the dirt from which it was dug, it probably won’t be very delicious alcohol. But it’s probably great for your stamina. It’s near Jirisan, which is one of the tallest mountains in Korea, and a very popular hiking destination.

In case you haven’t heard it already, Radiohead and Stone Roses are both playing the Jisan Valley Rock Festival this year. It’s going to be a wild party, July 27-29th.

If you can’t make Jisan, try the Pohang International Fireworks Festival. Incredible light shows in an international competition. Just get there early to stake your claim of beach. It’ll be standing-room only during the performance.

Like boats? Especially little river boats? Then there are a number of festivals for you. Try the Yeongwol Donggang Festival (July 27-31), which celebrates the old ferries that were used to transport goods and people along the Han River in days of yore. The Hwacheon Jjokbae (Raft) Festival (July 28- Aug 12) where you can actually enter a raft-building contest. The Love Han River Leisure Sports Festival, planned for August on the Han River in Seoul, will celebrate more modern forms of water recreation, like windsurfing and banana boating.

Want to know about Goryeo porcelain creation? Head to Gangjin Celadon Festival from July 28 – Aug 5. Gangjin is down in the southwest corner of Jeollanamdo, so maybe hit it up on your way to or from the Yeosu World Expo, or the White Lotus festival over by Mokpo.

The Bunghwa Eun-uh (Sweet Fish) Festival takes place from July 28-Aug 5, too. This is your chance to fish for smelt with your bare hands in Gyeongsangbuk-do. There is also mention of something called the “robot bike” which has my full attention.

Ok. So it turns out almost everything is happening the final weekend of July. Still, now you have lots of options if you couldn’t score Jisan tickets.