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The Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival on Jeju Island

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Festivals & Holidays,Jeju, 13 Comments

The Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival on Jeju Island


Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival in Jeju IslandAbout 2 million years ago, a series of volcanic eruptions created South Korea’s southern-most province, the island of Jeju-do. Jeju was ruled by the Tamna Kingdom (탐라국) for millennia before it entered and exited a series of tributary relationships with peninsula kingdoms. It wasn’t until 1404 that Tamna ended with Jeju’s final incorporation with Korea’s Joseon Dynasty.

Since volcanoes created Jeju, it’s no surprise that an annual fire festival would be among the island’s most popular events. And for the past 11 years, the island has celebrated the lunar new year’s first full moon with the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival (정월대보름들불축제).

Daeboreum is an important traditional holiday in Korea.  People across the country celebrate the day by climbing mountains in the cold to catch a glimpse of the first full moon, or they might journey to the nation’s East coast to see the year’s first rays of sun.

From Jeju Island’s Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival

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Other traditions include the flying of kites and jwibulnori (쥐불놀이), a fun exercise where kids twirl cans filled with burning charcoal.  As pieces of charcoal fall to the ground, the soil is fertilized and harmful pests are killed.

From Jeju Island’s Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival

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The cleansing of farmland is an important theme of the Daeboreum holiday, so as in years past, this year, the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival began with a torch relay across the entire island.  Other games and events, including one where children chased pigs and ducks across a finish line, were popular among families.  In another activity once used to mark adulthood on Jeju Island, participants see how far they can carry a 130-kilogram stone.


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Undoubtedly, the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival’s highlight is its firey conclusion, the lighting of an 82-acre oreum named Saebyeol (새별오름).  Jeju is dotted with hundreds of parasitic volcanoes called “oreum” (오름) in Korean. In 2007, these grassy hills, the mountain’s tallest point, Hallasan mountain (한라산), and the island’s famous lava tubes, won the entire island inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

From Jeju Island’s Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival

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Located in the northwestern part of the island, thousands of people gathered around the Saebyeol oreum’s base while festival onlookers became participants.  Shortly before 7:00 pm, hundreds of participants carrying torches lined up at the base of the oreum, until, at the urging of Jeju’s mayor, they cast them onto the hillside.  As the hill began to burn, an impressive fireworks display lit up the sky.

From Jeju Island’s Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival

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For the next thirty minutes, the audience was treated to a fireworks show while they watched the inferno.  Adding to the show were dozens of kites illuminated in the night sky by the fire and exploding fireworks.  But as the burning hill reached its zenith, a long line of percussionists snaked its way through the crowd, inviting participants toward the main stage, where ten ladies dressed in beautiful hanbok sang popular folk songs.

From Jeju Island’s Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival

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Soon, a multicultural dance area formed in front of the stage, with Jeju Island residents, Korean visitors from the mainland and foreigners alike danced together.  In a show of typical Jejanese hospitality, the musicians shared their instruments with the visitors while film crews captured the festival’s rousing final moments.  The Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival was definitely an exciting way to start my Jeju experience!.
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For your information…

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March 8-10 (2013)Free Admission02-1330
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Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Jeju-si Aewol-eup Sabyeol OreumFrom Jeju International Airport, take Bus #100 to Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal. From there, take an intercity bus bound for Pyeonghwa-ro Road. Get off at Hwajeon Village. website
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13 Comments

21 February 2009 05:40

Zora

gorgeous pictures~

21 February 2009 09:48

Matt Kelley

Thanks, Zora!

21 February 2009 09:51

Jeju Island Special Feature (Intro) « Discovering Korea with Matt Kelley

[...] Tomorrow: An 82-acre parasitic volcano is set ablaze as part of the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival. [...]

4 January 2010 11:20

Romantic Holidays and Destinations | Discovering Korea

[...] Jeju’s Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival (정월대보름) [...]

4 January 2010 11:58

Winter Festivals Calendar | Discovering Korea

[...] Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival (Saebyeol Oreum area, Jeju Island) February 12-14 Long ago Jeju Island farmers would lay fire to their fields, so that the harmful bugs would be chased away, and their cows could eat the grass. In this festival this practice is revived, and visitors will also get to experience setting pheasants free, traditional wedding ceremonies, and an entire hill set ablaze! (more info: go here.) Goseong Pollack and Sea Festival (Geojinhang, Gangwon Province) February 19-22 Seventy percent of all fish caught in Korea is a type of fish called Pollack, and the Goseong region catches the nation’s lion’s share. In February there’s a great festival to celebrate this fish, with cooking competitions, rituals to pray for an abundant catch, fishing events and even fireworks. (more info: call +82 33 1330 or http://www.myeongtae.com) [...]

27 February 2010 22:37

Jaehoon Jeong

I scheduled a post about Jeongwol Daeboreum too XD

March 04 2010 15:51 pm

Matt Kelley

Hi Jaehoon,
That's cool... I wanted to do another post this year but didn't have the time. I should have just linked to yours!
Have you visited it before? It's really a great festival.

Best, Matt

20 March 2010 19:26

Discovering Korea » Blog Archive » Winter Festivals Calendar

[...] Jeju Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival (Saebyeol Oreum, Jeju Island) February 26-28 This fantastic festival is a must-see event for visitors and residents, alike. On the first full moon of the lunar New Year, locals have continued a tradition of burning fields to kill harmful bugs and encourage new grass for their cattle. To pray for a healthy and prosperous new year, this tradition is reenacted by setting an entire oreum (parasitic volcano) ablaze in a hot and smoky fire festival that’s not to be missed. (here’s a post I did on last year’s festival.) (more info: call +82-64-1330 or visit here [Korean only].) SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Winter Festivals Calendar", url: "http://discoveringkorea.com/2009/12/01/winter-festivals-calendar-2/" }); Tags: Boseong , Boseong Tea Fields Festival of Lights , Cheonggyecheon Stream , ddeokguk , exorcism , Gwanghwamun Plaza , Hangang Bridge , Hi Seoul Winter Festival , Hwacheon , Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival , Hwaheoncheon Stream , ice fishing , Inje , Inje Icefish Festival , Jeju Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival , Korea Tourism Organization , Mt. Taebaeksan Snow Festival , Naksan Beach , Naksansa Temple , New Year , Odaecheon Stream , oreum , Polar Bear Run , Pyeongchang Trout Festival , Saebyeol Oreum , Seoul Festival of Lights , Seoul Plaza , Soyangho Lake , Spring Welcoming Exorcism of Tamna , Sungnyemun , Taebaek Coal Museum , Tamna Kingdom , winter festivals , Yangyang [...]

7 April 2010 09:43

Discovering Korea – Jeju Feature Part 2: Climbing Mt. Hallasan

[...] previous night my friend and I had stayed up late enjoying the Daeboreum Fire Festival. But that didn’t mean we could sleep in. Our itinerary had us climbing Mt. Hallasan, and besides [...]

12 September 2010 22:00

Discovering Korea – All Destinations

[...] 2009] Jinhae’s Cherry Blossoms [March 24, 2009] Spring 2009 Flower Festivals [March 15, 2009] Jeju Feature Part 1: Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival [February 21, 2009] Romantic Holidays and Destinations [February 12, 2009] Mt. Taebaeksan Snow [...]

18 November 2010 17:48

aNNa

Hi Matt,

I wish I could experience the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival too.. I wonder when is it going to be held on next year?
Will I catch it up on January?

Regards,
aNNa

November 26 2010 23:03 pm

Matt

Hi Anna,

Thanks for your note. Next year's Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival on Jeju Island is scheduled for February 17~19, 2011. Here's the festival website (still showing 2010 info.)
There's also brief information on 2011 available on the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) website.

It's a lot of fun!

7 February 2012 15:42

Burning in the New Year « Annie Around the World

[...] From Discovering Korea [...]

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