* The Jinju Lantern Festival is still on through October 12th, and is absolutely a must-see if you're in the area. During the three-day weekend a couple days ago an estimated one million people attended. Buses run there every hour from Suncheon, and several times a day from Gwangju.
* The Namdo Food Festival will be held from October 9th through the 13th at the lovely Nagan Folk Village. There are free shuttle buses to and from the village from Gwangju; people in Suncheon can reach the village via city buses 63 and 68. I'm gonna try and catch this one on Saturday, too.
* The Chungjangno Festival is on from today through the 12th in downtown Gwangju's Chungjangno district. The title is actually the "Gwangju Recollection Festival' this time around, and attractions include traditional food and snacks, and relics and photographs from earlier in the century. I know it sounds ridiculous to think stuff from just one generation ago is really neat and old-timey, but you don't find much of it in Korea these days. Speaking of old things in Gwangju, Missionary Wilson's House is a short walk away; it dates to 1920 and is the oldest Western-style house in Gwangju. Also on that university campus is a cemetary that is the resting place for many of the country's first missionaries. So there you go. I'm going to try to swing by this festival, too, if it's logistically possible.
* The Japanese Bloodbath Celebration Festival will be held in Myungnyang Strait, between Jindo and Haenam counties, from the 11th through the 14th. Notable attractions include a reenactment of the famous naval battle and the public debut of a solar-powered turtle ship that will ferry guests across the strait.
* The Gwangyang Sutbulgogi Festival will be held from the 10th through the 12th. The dish is pretty good, so I guess the festival will be okay, I dunno. I'm a little annoyed with Gwangyang because it didn't release the festival information until a few days ago. I wanted to include it in my Korea Times article about festivals down here, but since the folks over there couldn't be bothered to, like, make plans for its second-largest gathering of the year, I just said fuck it. Why the hell they scheduled it for the busiest weekend of the fall is beyond me. Gwangyang's not the only place that pulls stuff like that, and trying to compile an exhaustive list was a pain in the ass because so many festivals were scheduled for "October." Well, maybe next year my Korean will be good enough to call around and double-check.
* Also this weekend, on Sunday the 12th, is the International Community Day put on by my old friends at the GIC. It's held at Chosun University and has the theme of "World Street Food." I'm sort of obliged to attend, though don't expect me to smile. Ask me if there will be a stripper. "Will there be a stripper?" It depends how drunk I get. But, anyway, it will be a little nice because I wish I knew more foreigners in Jeollanam-do who weren't English teachers. It's easy to forget how much diversity there actually is down here since the ethnic communities are pretty well hidden.
* There's also the National Sports Festival held in Jeollanam-do from the 10th through the 16th. Apparently it's based in Gwangju, but as a friend found out recently, some of the baseball events are held in Yeongam and Yeosu.
* The Gwangju Biennale is still going strong at the Biennale Exhibition Hall at Jungoe Park in Gwangju's north side.
I compiled a lengthier list of Jeollanam-do festivals earlier, though after this weekend a lot of the main ones will have wrapped up. I'm pretty pissed that my write-ups on local stuff aren't turning up at the top of Google anymore, so please excuse any gratuitous internal links you find. Goofy Youtube videos, half-assed research, ordinary travelogues, and information lifted from my page without attribution don't cut it anymore around here. Anyway, sort of on-topic is an article from the Hankyoreh today about all the festivals that are going on and that overlap both dates and themes. Of regional interest:
One example is the Simcheong Festival, held yesterday afternoon in Gokseong County, South Jeolla Province. The festival was overwhelmed with crowds and enough cars to fill a parking garage able to accommodate 2,000 vehicles; entry from the entrance one kilometer ahead was difficult. Gokseong spent 400 million won to prepare the festival, but its distinctive character was lacking in comparison with its size. Tourist Kim Ho-geom, 35, who is from Dongnim-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju, said that the landscape of the festival’s location, the banks of the Seomjin River, was beautiful, but that the festival’s content -- including fireworks, performances by popular singers, pumba performances (performances by village buskers) and a 100-song challenge -- was monotonous. Kim also said that he wished there were more memorable activities or sights, even if it meant the festival was smaller in size.
I really wanted to go to that one in Gokseong, although not after reading that review, but was at the Lantern Festival instead. The overlap really sucks, and to be honest for some of these smaller festivals like the ones in Gokseong, Gwangyang, and wherever else, you're pretty much not going to get anyone except immediate locals if you schedule it during the same week as some of the country's biggest. Then again I'd hate to see festivals eliminated, as the Hankyoreh article suggests, just for the sake of convenience. Life is about making tough choices, and there are few tougher than deciding whether to attend the festival about meat or the one about murdering Japanese people.