If you've ever doubted the popularity of mud, you’ll surely reconsider it at the Boryeong Mud Festival on 13 July 2013! What began, in 1998, as a simple local event now brings in more than two million people annually, many of them residents of western South Korea and American military members stationed nearby. This festival has reached such epic proportions that media outlets worldwide have run feature stories on it, including America's Time Magazine.
Boryeong and Its Mud Flats
This summertime tradition takes place over eleven days each July, in the fast-growing city of Boryeong in South Korea, which is located approximately 124 miles south of Seoul. Boryeong, by the way, is the official name of this city, but it is better known as "Daecheon."
Trucks bring to Boryeong's beaches the mud for this festival, mud that originates in the city's mud flats. A mud flat is a section of seaside land with a low elevation; the ocean washes over a mud flat during high tide, but leaves it bare during low tide.
The Boryeong Mud Festival began as an advertising scheme for the area cosmetics companies that used Boryeong mud in their products. This mud is actually ideal for cosmetic purposes as it's loaded with mineral content. And cosmetic companies still use this festival to inform the public about their products, and to sell samples at the on-site marketplace. This market also offers attendees acupuncture sessions and massages.
Fun With Mud
Festival-goers have many options for fun. For instance, concerts take place on a temporary stage that's set up on the beach each July. But most of the attractions here, logically, involve mud – lots and lots of mud. People can go down mud-covered slides, dive into muddy pools, mud-ski, and have their bodies painted with mud in various hues. It's interesting to note that the local population has long believed in the therapeutic properties of mud on human skin, and so this festival amounts to a joyous celebration of that custom.
The Festival Comes to a Close
The Boryeong Mud Festival ends during the second weekend of July, and those two days attract, by far, the most people. The event concludes with an elaborate fireworks display, and then the revellers disperse. Many must realize, poignantly, that until the mud returns the following year, the only way to approximate this one-of-a-kind experience is to roll around in the mud at home.