It’s a lantern festival, but not as you know it. Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival – yudeung is Korean for lantern – is a spectacular event with 70,000 creative colourful artworks as far as the eye can see. There are huge lanterns in the shape of temples, fireworks, music and more.
Jinju is in the south of Korea, close to the coast, in Gyeongsangnam prefecture. While today the festival promotes peace and fun, its origins lie in war. The original lantern lighting custom was created during the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle of the Imjinwaeran War (during a Japanese invasion, 1592). Lighting the river brightly was a military strategy to prevent Japanese troops from wading in. Today’s festival features an event called gaejesik, the lighting of lanterns in remembrance of the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle veterans.
One of the festival highlights is being able to make a lantern with your own personal wish and float it along the Namgang River. There’s also an exhibition of the world’s traditional lanterns. This year’s festival is themed ‘water, fire, light and our wishes’.
Check the full programme on the official website here, but if you’re in Korea now, be quick, as the festival ends on Sunday. Tickets for adults cost 10,000 won, and students (ages 7-18) can get in for 5,000 won.