If You Want To Get High, You Can't Top These 4 FestivalsIn Korea there are several mountain festivals organized in South Kyongsang and Kangwon provinces to celebrate the different seasons. Depending on the time of year, visitors can enjoy spring flower blossoms, vibrant autumn foliage or snow capped mountain peaks in winter. The festivals usually hold a sansinje, or ritual offering to the god of the mountain, as the main event. The following are some of Korea's most well known mountain festivals.
Geumsan Ginseng Festival
Geumsan county in South Chungchong province has been well known as the home for ginseng (insam in Korean) tea since the Koryeo dynasty. Every September, the Geumsan Ginseng Festival is held to promote locally grown ginseng. The festival offers various cultural events including a sansinje to the god of Mount Jinak. According to local myth, the mountain god took pity on a man caring for his sick mother and gave him a root of ginseng with which to cure her. The man later planted ginseng on Jinak mountain in a place called Gaesamteo, which is said to be the original location of ginseng cultivation in Korea. Other events of the festival include performances by "Geumsan Nong-ak," or traditional peasant bands and the singing of "Mulpegi-nong-yo," traditional tunes that farmers in the area used to sing while working. This year's festival will be held from September 14-23.
For more information about the festival, contact the Web site of Geumsan county at www.kumsan.chungnam.kr (English version available) or call 041-750-2225 (Korean service only).
Mount Hwawang Reeds Festival
Mount Hwawang (757 meters high) in South Kyongsang province boasts beautiful scenery year round, but the mountain is especially famous for its reeds (eoksae or galdae) in the fall. Visitors flock to the mountain this time of year to see the beautiful silver colored reeds that blanket the mountain at about 178,500 square meters from its peak.
The festival begins at night with a sansinje and is followed by a peace procession. For more information, contact Changnyeong county at 055-533-4101 (Korean service only)
Taebaekje is held October 3 to pay respects to Tangun, the mythical founder of Korea. According to Korean folklore, Tangun was the son of Heaven who came to earth by descending upon Mount Taebaek in Kangwon province.
Taebaekje features a variety of events such as a gut, or an exorcism performed by shamans, a climbing event and folk games. Tangunje is the name given to the ritual dedicated to Tangun and is performed on the stone altar (Cheonjedan) on top of Mount Taebaek. A cheonje is held to pay respects to the heavens and a sansinje is also held for the mountain god.
For more information, contact the Web site of Taebaek city at http://taebaek.kangwon.kr (English version available) or call the city's Tourism Information Center at 033-550-2828 (English service available).
Seorak Cultural Festival
Rituals have been performed on Mount Seorak in Kangwon province since the three kingdoms period and are even mentioned in the Samguksagi, a famous historical text from the Koryeo dynasty. The Seorak Cultural Festival which will be held this year from October 12-14. In addition, the festival features a climbing event, an exorcism ritual called byeolsingut and a ceremony to commemorate the people who died while climbing the mountain. Visitors can also enjoy traditional Korean music and dance, art exhibitions and folk games.
For more information, call the committee of the festival at 033-639-2225 (Korean service only).
by Lee Sang-min