The Representative Festivals of Jeju
Jeju was once known as Tamna, or “island country.” Now it is a favorite tourism site. Let’s take a look at the island’s festivals for 2022, ones which aim to keep Jeju’s culture and traditions alive for future generations.
- Continuing the island’s rich traditionsThe Representative Festivals of Jeju
Long ago, Jeju Island was called Tamna, meaning “island country.” The origin story of Jeju begins with the founding of the Tamna Kingdom at Samseonghyeol in Jeju City, where the three mythical founding families of Go, Bu, and Yang, are said to have emerged from three holes in the ground.
Tamna became part of the Goryeo Dynasty in 1105 CE, during the 10th year of the reign of King Sukjong, and was renamed Jeju. Since then, Jeju Island has had a tumultuous history, with foreign invasions, occupations, and tragic conflicts like the April 3rd Incident in the mid-20th century.
Now, in the 21st century, Jeju has been reborn as a representative tourist destination in Korea. Let’s take a look at the island’s representative festivals for 2022, ones which aim to keep Jeju’s culture and traditions alive for future generations.
Jeju is known as the “land of 18,000 gods.” There is a period at the end of the lunar calendar known as Singugan (usually late January on the solar calendar), when it’s thought that these gods return to heaven. The island’s shamans hold a ritual ceremony after Singugan summoning them back to Jeju to protect its people. This ritual is known as “Ipchungut”.
“Ipchun” marks the beginning of spring and a new beginning. The Tamnaguk Ipchungut festivities are held in Jeju City at Jejumok Gwana (a former government office near Gwandeokjeong Hall) and in areas around the city.
Events such as a Confucian ritual (Segyeongje) to pray for a bountiful harvest by reproducing the original form of Ipchungut, a spring lantern and street parade to spread the joy of traveling around Jeju’s original city center, folk games, and the sharing of local foods are just some of the festivities at hand.
▸ Jejumok Gwana : 25, Gwandeok-ro, Jeju-si
The Jeju Fire Festival is a very famous event throughout Korea. It reproduces the traditional farming techniques of Jeju Island in a modern way. In order to get rid of dead grass and pests in the mid-mountainous grasslands, traditionally each village would set controlled fires to fields and grazing land in late winter. This would clear the land and allow new grass to sprout. It is a custom that contains the wisdom of generations of islands who lived in harmony with nature.
The Jeju Fire Festival is held annually in March at a volcanic cone called Saebyeol Oreum, with a large fire that lights up the night sky in spectacular fashion. In previous years, many tens of thousands of visitors (both domestic and international) have come to this rural venue to celebrate the beginning of spring.
Since the year 2000, Saebyeol Oreum has been the annual official site of the festival. Saebyeol Oreum is so named because it “shines like the morning star.” The panoramic view of Saebyeol Oreum boasts the unique beauty of Jeju’s mid-mountainous areas. Especially in autumn, the silver grass which grows abundantly on the volcanic cone makes for a spectacular place to take a walk, make pleasant memories, and take plenty of photos.
▸Saebyeol Oreum: San 59-8, Bongseong-ri, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si
Seogwipo Chilsimni was named after the fact that it was located near Seogwipo Port some 70-ri (an old way of measuring distance, with 1 ri equivalent to about 500 meters) west of Jeongeuihyeon. Today, it is not simply a location, but has become a proper noun representing the beauty of Seogwipo and the ideals, hopes, and dreams that are dear to the hearts of the Jeju people.
The Chilsimni Festival is a way to revive the traditions of the region and celebrate the coming together of many different kinds of people. A marine experience is also held in the area around the festival along the Seogwipo coastline, which is famous for its superb scenery. Here you can soak up the atmosphere of Jeju with traditional Jeju experiences such as riding a traditional tewoo fishing vessel, swimming competitions, scuba diving, jet skiing, sailing, and sea fishing, among many others.
▸Seogwipo City Chilsimni Outdoor Performance Hall: 6-1 Namseongjung-ro, Seogwipo-si
The Tamna Cultural Festival is a representative cultural festival of Jeju Island which aims to revitalize the origins of Tamna culture. Here you can discover Jeju folklore, history, cultural heritage, and art, among other fascinating elements of island life.
The Tamna Cultural Festival is the largest of Jeju's folk events. At the beginning of October every year, villages hold folk contests all over Jeju Island. Various events such as the Hallasan Deity Festival, the (Kim) Mandeok Festival, the Island Folklore Festival, the Jeju Horse Festival, a Jeju Language Competition, an Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival, and a Folk Song Competition are held here.
Unique folk games handed down from each region of Jeju are reenacted, and various events that show the characteristics of Jeju's nature and history are demonstrated to captivated audiences.
▸Tamna Cultural Plaza: 1498, Ildo 1-dong, Jeju-si
- ※ The above information was written on 2022-01-21. Please confirm the information prior to your trip.
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