Boryeong Mud Festival

Last weekend, I attended the Boryeong Mud Festival.  Held annually at Daecheon Beach, this festival attracts Koreans and foreigners alike in honor of one unusual item: mud.  All of the Boryeong (보령) mud is actually trucked in from nearby mudflats.  What started as a natural celebration of skin-softening mud has become a celebration of all things downright dirty.

Boryeong is about a 4 hour drive from Daegu

Early Saturday morning, 300 foreigners and I met at the Novotel to board six buses headed west.  About 4 hours later, we arrived in Boryeong.  Located on the West Coast of Korea, this normally quiet beach town was bustling with activity.  After checking into our Korean-style motel (a floor with some blankets), several of us headed towards the beach and festival.  The beach was lovely – it was nice to see the other coast for the first time.  The best way to describe the festival is simply one word: insanity.  Foreigners and Koreans were everywhere, completely covered in mud.  Music was blasting from every corner.  Mud pools, mud wrestling, mud slides, mud races, mud prison… as far as the eye could see.  Even colored mud for the artsy types.  And Korea wouldn’t be Korea without long lines for everything.  Even the nearby shops were covered with mud, complete with muddy footprints on the floor.

Cleaning up: the next day, festival workers started breaking everything down (Photo by Natalie Bester)

After wallowing in mud for a few hours, most people wanted to rinse off.  Luckily, the Yellow Sea was only a few yards away.  Some people waited in line for the showers, but most festival-goers went au naturel and plunged into the chilly water.  I have to admit, it was pretty satisfying to watch the mud disappear almost instantly.  A shower or two later, I was clean as I was going to get and grabbed dinner (gamjatang… yum) with some friends.  Later still, it started to pour and most people were driven inwards to one of three restaurants/bars.  After milling about for a few hours, we headed back to the motel and hung out below the deck, where I acquired over 100 mosquito bites (no exaggeration).  The next day, we grabbed lunch and headed home.  It felt like a long weekend, but it was a unique experience and I’m glad we did it.  It was strange being around so many foreigners in one place after about 4 months of being a racial minority.  In Boryeong it was reversed!

Dirty Daegookins
The Yellow Sea (West Sea to Koreans)
The photographers seemed pretty interested in us
Our group – hitting the beach one last time before boarding the buses

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