As you may have noticed Korea has a festival for everything. Probably the most popular festival for foreigners from all over the world is the Boryeong Mud Festival. For two weekends in July every year the festival attracts thousands of foreigners of all ages who are looking forward to literally getting down and dirty by playing in the mud. As repulsing or disgusting as this might sound, let me first tell you that the mud is actually specially made and purified for the festival. Back in the 60s it was discovered that the mud found and processed from the sand of Daechon Beach has great benefits for the skin. In Boryeong there are spas that offer face masks and body treatments that use this mud. So minus the details of thousands of foreigners playing around in the mud all together, the experience is actually quite healthy.
This weekend myself, every foreign teacher I know, member of the U.S. military and more made the pilgrimage down to Boryeong to Daechon Beach, on the west coast of Seoul to check out this infamous Mud Festival. Saturday was pouring rain as it has been for the past week. But somehow around noon the sun came out and the weather ended up holding up for us for the entire weekend. When we arrived after a 2 hour bus ride from Seoul we grabbed some beers, changed into our bathing suits and prepared ourselves to get dirty.
On our walk from the pension we knew when we were getting closer as we saw more people walking past covered in mud. We started out hesitantly, but as we were in the thick of it we actually felt left out not being covered in mud. We slathered on some mud with paint brushes from these flowing fountains of mud. There were so many people and it was impossible to recognize anyone covered in the dirt. There were stations with mud slides, mud fights, and obstacle courses.
After an hour or so of being caked in the mud we were ready to jump in the ocean and get rinsed off. The mud came off instantly and we were able to relax on the beach before showering back at the pension. The evening was pretty chill. After being out all day in the sun we were tired and hungry. We had some Korean style BBQ for dinner, walked around the night festival, and watched a fireworks show before calling it a night.
It was definitely a fun experience, but one day was enough for me. As some of my friends stuck around for round 2 on Sunday, I headed back to Seoul in the morning. It was another thing checked off my bucket list, but probably not something I would do again. It’s one of those things everyone should do once in their lives, but doing it a second time just wouldn’t have the same appeal.