The Jinju Lantern festival (진주 남강 유등 칙제) was about two months ago, back in October. Typically, festivals in Korea last for two weeks, and I decided to go the last weekend. I had been to Jinju once before, passing through, to visit my friends for Thanksgiving. This time I went to Jinju to see the festival and to meet up with my friends.
The traffic on the way to Jinju was HORRIBLE and it actually took an extra hour or two to get to Jinju and then another hour or so to find a parking spot. The sun was up when I had entered Jinju, but it had set by the time I got to the gate. As the roads indicated, the festival was also crowded >.<
So the festival itself was okay, but not one that I’d care to go to again. The lanterns are paper mache statues with lights underneath them. There were a variety of lanterns: historical depictions, traditional ceremonies, the animals of the Chinese zodiac, traditional drums, trees, etc. They were set up along the path ways, in the grass of the park, and even on floats on the river. In addition to the lanterns, there were a couple of shows (dancing and traditional singing) and of course tents for shopping.
I stayed for the fireworks. Most of the Koreans were overly enthralled by the show. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fireworks and gorgeous ones at that, but I don’t “ooo” and “ahh” over them. They were also a tad overdone, in my opinion. On top of that, they were not set off very safely. In the States, typically, fireworks are set off away from the spectators for safety reasons. This was not the case here; they were being set off on the river and most people were in the grass along the river or at the ledge to get the best views. I did not enjoy the fireworks after the first two minutes: the noise was deafening, I was getting hit with the embers and remnants from the fireworks, and then I was choking on all the smoke in the air.
After the fireworks, I walked around some more and looked for my friends. I never did find them. So, I left and had a hell of a time leaving. If it was possible, traffic was worse leaving Jinju. It took almost 2 hours to get out of the city, and it should have only taken 15 minutes. I have yet to attend and thoroughly enjoy a festival in Korea. *sigh* Oh, but here are some more pics that I took in Jinju.