South Korea: The Boryeong Mud Festival

A hot spot to see other foreigners, the Boryeong Mud Festival in South Korea has attracted tourists for years. Originally used as a campaign to promote the cosmetics that come from the Boryeong mud, the festival has grown into a two week extravaganza of mud, mud slides, mud wrestling, and mud obstacle courses.

Located south of Seoul, Boryeong is set near the beach. This is where the festival is held during the summer, with giant trucks of mud driven from the mud flats and set up on the beach. The festival is often sponsored by a beer company (I can’t remember the name), and free beer was provided to those willing to wait in line.

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First, you pay to enter and get a wristband. Upon entering, there are “cages” you can go in with your friends and get mud thrown at you. It sounds weird, but being the only person not covered head to toe in mud would be weirder.

Then there are slides you can ride, ending with a mud pit at the bottom. My group chose to play mud soccer first, where we succeeded in slipping and falling on our ass more than actually making a goal. Then there are mud wrestling arenas where you have to pull people off of a structure and the last one standing is the winner. There are also obstacles courses and tug of war arenas as well.

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The beach has a large stage where singers and dancers perform, but you can also see dancing in the festival itself. And although I didn’t stay long enough to see them, I was told that fireworks conclude the night.

As the festival is becoming more and more popular with tourists, here are a few things you can do to ensure you make the most of your time.

  1. Take your cellphone but put it in a protective case, the pictures are worth it but damaging your phone is not.
  2. Those who wear contacts need to protect their eyes at all times, believe me, getting mud in your eye will cause the rest of your time there to be painful.
  3. Most people there will wear shorts and a t-shirt, or if they are a foreigner, men will not wear shirts and some women will wear bikini tops. If you don’t want to stand out, wear those things as well. I chose to wear a sports bra and a bikini bottom and I was 100% the only person wearing bikini bottoms and I got some looks because of it.
  4. Get a locker for your stuff, it is located to the right of the festival enclosure near the beach, and isn’t that expensive to purchase.
  5. Buy some of the cosmetics they have! They will be slightly overpriced but they are great gifts for friends and family back home. Get yourself a t-shirt to remember your time by.
  6. The mud is watery and very silky feeling, it doesn’t hurt to get hit by it and it dried very quickly – so the best pictures to be taken are when the mud is wet.
  7. The ocean is a good place to wade in and wash a good amount of the mud off before you head to the showers (which are very crowded).
  8. Sometimes, and this is true everywhere in South Korea, locals will ask to take photos with or of you. I was asked at the festival after I had washed off most of the mud in the ocean and I was so confused why they would want a picture of a half muddy foreigner when there were so many others around me. Then I realized it was probably because of my height and the fact that I wore bikini bottoms.

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