Boryeong Mud Festival 2013

Look for this article in print in the August 8th addition of Stripes Korea found on Military Posts throughout Korea
Have you ever dreamed of having a fun filled weekend in the mud?  Then Boryeong Mud Festival is calling your name. 
                Boryeong Mud Festival is a yearly event that takes place about 200 km from Seoul in the small beach town of Boryeong, South Korea.  Since its start in 1998, it has attracted over 2.2 million visitors.  The festival is a two week event that takes place in July.  This year it is being held from July 18-29. 

                The festival originated to celebrate the minerals that are found in the mud flats located in Boryeong.  These minerals are believed to have benefits for your skin.  The mud from these flats is used to manufacture cosmetics.

                A group of friends and I joined  ‘The Seoul Expat Global Meetup Group’ to attend a 2 day stay at the festival.  Included in our trip was overnight accommodations, dinner and breakfast, mud carnival tickets, mud boot camp, and round trip bus fair.  The trip in total cost 85,000 won per person.  There are a plethora of groups offering trips like this to Mud Fest.  They are easily found online through a Google search.  It is also easy to take the train to Boryeong and book a hotel in the area.  Be warned, however, hotels, trains and buses do fill up and should be booked well in advance.
                We began our weekend with a 2.5 hour bus ride to Boryeong. Like most of the ground travel experiences in Korea, this drive took us through acres and acres of rice patties.  The fields were lush from the rainy season and made for a beautiful view.   As we neared the beach, our view changed as the ocean opened before us.
                We stayed overnight at the Nova Hotel, located a block from the beach and close to the main events of Mud Fest.  The hotel has beach views and kitchen facilities.  Some rooms had beds and others had traditional Korean Sleeping Mats. 
                After unpacking we headed towards the beach to have lunch before joining in the mud festivities.  Seafood is fresh and plentiful in Boryeong.  Our group decided to try our first Korean Seafood hot pot.  The massive bowl was filled with spicy broth and a tower of seafood including crab, giant scallops, mussels, clams, cuttlefish, octopus, vegetables and other delicacies cooked in front of our eyes.  Everything was so fresh and delicious.  If you visit a beach town and are a seafood lover, I highly recommend trying one of these dishes.
                Our next stop, after our bellies were full, was Mud Fest!  We all changed into our bathing suits and headed for the beach.  Directly across from our hotel was a plaza that housed vats filled with mud.  Our group did not get far before everyone began covering one another with mud.  Paint brushes were inside the vats so friends could paint one another.
                After applying the traditional Mud Fest costume, we continued down the beach to the mud carnival.  This is an area that houses a mud wrestling pit,  mud prison, mud massage pool, mud blow up slides and a mud obstacles course.  There is also an area devoted for children with mud games.  Lines were long for the mud carnival, but I was able to try a few rides.  First I was thrown into the mud prison where spectators threw giant globs of mud onto me.  There was no escaping as  I covered my eyes and let the mud flow.  Next I dove into the mud pit where I wrestled another foreigner and found myself even more covered in mud.  Finally I climbed a two story blow up slide and slid my way towards the beach.

                As I got off the slide, I heard a loud noise and looked towards the sky to see jets soaring above me.  Throughout Mud Fest the ROK air force puts on amazing jet shows.  Six jets soared through the sky for over a half hour.  They painted the clouds with red and blue smoke and showed off their many tricks.  It was an amazing event to watch!

                Besides the air show, there were events taking place throughout the day all over the city of Boryeong.  When you weren’t busy painting your friends with colored mud,  splashing in mineral mud vats, or washing off in the ocean, you could attend a cultural event at one of the many tents at Mud Fest.

                Several stages are set up at Mud Festival playing K-Pop, club music, traditional music and more.  Near the shore a two story beach stage was set up.  The DJ performed on the top level with girls dancing around him holding squirt guns to douse the crowd.

                At night a huge K-Pop performance took place on the main stage.  The entertainment continued with a beautiful fireworks display from a barge anchored offshore.

                The following morning we woke up early to attend ‘Mud Boot Camp.’  Mud Boot Camp takes place in the mud flats that the mud is taken from for the festival.  The ROK army trains in these flats throughout the year.
                When we arrived at the flats, we were given camouflage gear to change into.  We did warm up exercises in the mud that included forward and backwards mud crawls.  After this we broke into two teams and had mud challenges.  The losing team had to do mud exercises after every competition.  Our final two events were mud wrestling and mud soccer.  It was a lot of fun and quite the workout!
                Mud Fest 2013 was a great time!  If you have the opportunity to attend  this weekend’s festival or next years event, I highly recommend taking the trip.  It will be a once in a lifetime experience!

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