From October 1st ~ 12th hundreds of spirits, soldiers, and denizens from Korea’s past emblazon the night in the small fortified city of Jinju.
The Namgang Lantern Festival (진주 남강 유등 축제) is held every autumn in the small (for Korea) city of Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province. The festival not only commemorates the city’s great victory in the Imjin war, but also depicts traditional life in Korea at the time. Centred around the fortress and the Nam River (Namgang) outside, the lanterns bask the city in a beautiful glow. Accompanying the artistic luminosity are traditional foods, drinks, games, and fantastic performances of Joseon music, dance, and song.
City after city fell to samurai swords, yet Jinju refused to be capitulated. Utterly outnumbered and outgunned the ragtag army under the leadership of general Simin pushed the Japanese invaders back.
The city’s great triumph was short lived however as the samurai returned in greater numbers, and this time levelled everything. The conflict raged for a further six years and ended in stalemate.
The festival is not all soldiers and war though. Korea’s past customs, games, jobs, and beliefs are all represented in glorious glowing paper.
Here’s the monkey from the Chinese zodiac.
Daksaum, or chicken fight, is a traditional children’s wrestling game. The participants hold onto one leg and, hopping around like a chicken, try to knock their opponent’s leg to the floor.
Joseon men enjoy a tea ceremony… (I’ll tell you something about blood tea)
Young children giggle as they ride on tomorrow’s dinner.
Janggi is a chess like game originating in China and is still played by old folks in parks across Korea.
Jinju is easy to reach from Busan or Seoul by bus or train. The festival last for several days and is likely to be very busy on the weekends. However, don’t let that deter you from experiencing one of Korea’s most awesome festivities.