hwacheon winter festival
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Hwacheon Trout Fishing and Huge, Winter Carnivals in Korea

When Korea wants to throw a winter festival, it goes all out!

Take the Hwacheon Winter Trout Festival in January. Initially, I thought the festival was purely about the spectacle of fishing for sancheoneo (or wild trout) through a hole in the ice or even fishing by hand: it was an event I’d only related with Eskimos and igloos. But when I got there, what I got was a surprising peek into how Koreans enjoy good old-fashioned winter fun.

February 5, 2012 10
kimchi making season, making kimchi in Korea
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Spicy Novembers: Kimchi Making Season in Korea!

A couple of months back, news wires buzzed with bits on South Korea’s “Kimchi Crisis”. Korean farmers hit by a bad last winter, cabbage counts were low, heads were small… the national dinner table staple was threatened with a possible shortage! Oh no, what would Korea do? November is Korea’s kimchi-making season and families typically, buy cabbages in heaping bulks to make enough kimchi to last over winter…

December 17, 2010 8
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Review: Daegu Biennale 2010

Crunchy art. It’s the last thing I expected Daegu to produce. To me, crunchy art is very satisfying- a tasty and thought-provoking bit, that you must chew on in order to appreciate it’s flavored variety and texture. When I first heard Daegu was having a Biennale, my first impulse was to dismiss it. I’m glad I didn’t. The exhibition blew me away international works that were witty, gravity-defying, wicked, romantic and… crunchy.

November 14, 2010 5
digital media seoul, seoul contemporary arts
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Hi Seoul Festival and Media City Seoul 2010

October seemed to be the month for festivals and… scintillating art. Perhaps this country isn’t just all world heritage sites, bundegi (my silkworm arch nemesis) and traditional crafts. Maybe it can swing with the likes of New York City, Los Angeles, Venice, Basel, etc… jet-setting continents to bring together brow-raising shows.

If last month was a sample of the future, then Korea might be on the rookie list of international contenders. I took in three world-class international art/performance exhibitions; one of them was even in.. (gasp) Daegu!

November 13, 2010 2
peppero day in korea,
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Korea Loves Pepero Day!

How many special days do you know of named after a snack brand? In Korea, November 11 is called Pepero Day. Sure, I remember eating it or something like it when I was a kid– it’s a thin chocolate dipped wafer stick! It’s a commercial type of day that the company initiated, but the young kids have turned it a bit into a Valentine’s Day, with one exception– you give out Pepero sticks! From ribbon-decorated boxes to gift baskets, to two foot long Pepero wands… this kind of craze only leaves you with one impression. Korea must really love their Pepero!

November 11, 2010 1
andong mask festival
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Andong Maskdance Festival in need of more… masks

My October kicked off with the Annual Andong Maskdance Festival and friends, Gina & Joel of A Year in Daegu (you can read their review here). Now festivals in Korea can come in all shapes and sizes and yet, they can often get into the habit of feeling eerily the same. Inflated tents sell the standard Korean festival fare in foods and vendor knick-knacks; some are reserved for carnival games or an arts and crafts section for kids. This festival, being one of Korea’s better-known festivals, launched our hopes higher.

October 24, 2010 14
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Fighting Bulls in Cheongdo (저ㅗㅇ도) Festival in Korea

This is a late post but here it goes… Every March, the small village of Cheongdo (30 min from Daegu) awakens to host the Annual Cheongdo Bull Fighting Festival. No, this is not like a Spanish bullfight with a matador and lots bloodsport. This is bull vs. bull (and seldom will one die in the ring).

June 25, 2010 0
Bogeunsa temple seoul, biggest buddha in seoul
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Celebrate Buddha’s Day at Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul

For the month of March, Buddha’s Birthday was being celebrated all across Asia in countries such as Nepal, India, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, etc… For some countries this is a month long celebration; for others it’s less. In Korea, the auspicious day landed on a Friday (May 27) which meant three-day weekend for most of us. Preparations at Buddhist temples usually begin anywhere from a week or few in advance with paper lantern decorations [More…] and displays. Making a pilgrimmage out to a Buddhist temple is where you want to be if you want to see colorfully lit lanterns and special events performances.

June 6, 2010 3
jinhae cherry blossom festival, cherry blossoms in korea
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Pink Snow at the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Each spring, during the months of late Mar to early April, the town of Jinhae holds their annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

April 2, 2010 2
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