Land Bridge Legend Comes Alive at Fest In Southern ChollaLegend has it that Grandmother Bbong was an old lady who parted the sea between Mo Island and Hoedong village in the Jindo county, South Cholla province, in the 1480s. This sea passage is a natural phenomenon caused by the difference between the ebb and flow of the tide.
The word hodong literally translates as tiger village and Hoedong village was given its name in the 1480s because it was often attacked by tigers. One day, the villagers decided to evacuate their homes and find shelter on Mo Island since they could no longer stand the attacks. They were in such a hurry that they forgot to take Grandmother Bbong with them when they left the village.
Deserted, the old lady prayed every day to the Dragon King, the god of sea, to save her. Finally, the Dragon King appeared to her in a dream, promising to make a rainbow bridge for her to cross the sea. Upon waking, she headed to the seashore near the village and saw a passage to Mo Island appearing out of the sea. The villagers came back to save her through the passage but they were too late. Grandmother Bbong died of exhaustion as they arrived and her spirit rose to heaven. The seashore Grandmother Bbong died on came to be called Yeongdeungsari which means, the place where the spirit rose.
WHEN TO GO
Every year Jindo county commemorates Grandmother Bbong and the appearance of the passage in the sea between Hoedong village and Mo Island with the Yeongdeung Festival. The festival will start tomorrow and end on Friday. From Wednesday, groups of people will cross the sea passage between Hoedong and Mo Island every afternoon. On Wednesday, the walk will take place between 5 p.m. and 6:20 p.m, on Thursday between 5:20 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and on Friday between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The festival will begin with a performance of a yeolrimgut, an exorcism to celebrate the eve of the festival on Tuesday. The performance will be accompanied with samulnori, a traditional Korean percussion quartet. The opening ceremony will be held on Wednesday and will be followed by performances such as ganggangsuwollae, a dance that features a circle of people holding hands and singing; jindo-arirang, the singing of famous folk songs from the Jindo area and geolgun nongak, music by a traditional peasant band.
Yeongdeungsal-nori, also on Wednesday, includes the performance of the scene from the legend of Grandmother Bbong when she meets the villagers at the seashore.
The rest of the festival will also feature traditional Korean performances, including jindo buknori, which is drumming and pumba-taryeong, singing and dancing that mimics beggars. Other events are a dancing competition for young people on Thursday and a traditional Korean wrestling match on Friday.
For more information, contact the festival's website at www.chindo.chonnam.kr (English version available).
by Lee Sang-min