Crowds flounder and scream in the gray mud. Crazed people struggle with each other, fighting fiercely to throw others into the mud. The streets of a small coastal village are messy with mud. Mud-covered pedestrians, some already tipsy, wander along the beachside streets. But this is not a battlefield or a disaster area. It’s typical scenery during the Boryeong Mud Festival.
The festival, which runs from July 16-24 this year, is one of South Korea’s most popular summer events. Around 2-3 million domestic and international festival-goers visit the beach during the event each year to enjoy mud-related activities such as mud slides, mud wrestling, a mud king contest and mud massages.
The presence of lots of foreign visitors, many of them members of the U.S. Forces Korea and their families, make this festival an exotic event for locals. It feels like I’m staying at Miami Beach. The mud puts everyone in a good mood. Visitors can enjoy the festival regardless of age, sex, or nationality. And there’s no need to play in the mud – you can just spray it and tackle the people around you! Somehow everyone can be friends after a few minutes of mud fighting.
“The mud festival is a lot of fun. I can forget everything during the festival,” said local festival-goer Kim Hyo-yeon, 28. “Everybody are like kids when they’re playing in the mud.” Best of all, the mud is said to be very good for the skin. People can get good skin care treatment as they play with their friends in a mud pool.
Organizers say the combination of fun and health is what makes the event special. “Boryeong’s mud is different from other mud,” a festival official said. “It refreshes the skin and soothes the soul.” Daecheon beach in Boryeong, about 190 km (118 miles) southwest of Seoul, is also popular for its sandy beach. Festival-goers can clean their mud-covered bodies easily by simply rushing into the sea in front of the festival venue. After sunset, the beach comes alive under the stars as festival-goers cool off from the daytime’s feverish events. If you can stay awake all night there’s plenty of fireworks, dancing, drinking and other activities to enjoy.