Jeongwol Daeboreum refers to the first full moon of the Lunar New Year, which falls on the 15th day of the lunar calendar. This first full moon is considered to be the largest and roundest of all the moons in the year. On this day, traditions and customs are performed to wish for a peaceful and bountiful year. In 2017, Jeongwol Daeboreum falls on February 11 of the Gregorian calendar. Jeongwol Daeboreum is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Korea’s traditions, and there are plenty of hands-on activities and events taking place to celebrate.
• Drinking gwibalgisul: A tradition of drinking a cup of chilled liquor on the morning of Jeongwol Daeboreum to open one’s ears to hearing only good news all year round.
• Cracking bureom: Bureom are nuts, such as peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, and ginkgo nuts. A common tradition of Jeongwol Daeboreum is to crack a nut in your mouth in the morning. This is believed to help strengthen one’s teeth and avoid skin problems in the coming year.
• Sharing ogok-bap rice: Ogok-bap is steamed rice made with five grains. The rice is eaten with various seasoned vegetables and is believed to bring good luck.
• Burning daljip: Daljip is a heap of straw or twigs. Burning daljip is a tradition intended to ward off misfortune and bring good luck.
• Jwibulnori: Jwibulnori is a tradition of burning grass and weeds on dry fields and rice paddies after sunset in order to kill insect eggs and to fertilize the fields with ashes. The flames lighting up the night sky also make for a spectacular sight.
• Jisinbapgi: On Jeongwol Daeboreum, a band of farmer musicians travel from house to house to stomp on the ground to call on jisin, the gods of the earth. As the traveling band of musicians visits each house in the village, thereby bringing good fortune to all, the villagers in turn provide the musicians with food and drinks.
• Juldarigi: Juldarigi is a traditional tug-of-war game, with people dividing into two teams to pull on a rope. On the day before Jeongwol Daeboreum, the villagers gather together and make one large rope out of many smaller ropes. The next day, the villagers divide into two teams, depending on which side of the village they live in.
• Deowipalgi: Deowipalgi literally means "selling heat." This fun, symbolic tradition involves calling a friend or family member by name. If they respond, they are then told, "Buy my heat!" The buyer is then responsible for absorbing all the heat the seller would have otherwise received in the coming summer.
Located on Namsan Mountain, Namsan Seoul Tower is the most visited observatory and the best place to view the full moon for couples in Seoul. It has an outdoor observatory as well as restaurants and coffee shops. Visitors can also stop by entertainment facilities in the tower, or enjoy a walk in the neighboring park.
Namhansanseong Fortress is located on Namhansan Mountain, which spans three cities in Gyeonggi-do, including Gwangju-si, Seongnam-si, and Hanam-si. Here, visitors get great views of the full moon from Sueojangdae command post, as well as night views of the Songpa-gu district of Seoul and the central part of Gyeonggi-do. The historic sites within Namhansanseong Fortress also look great under the full moon.
Gyeongpodae Pavilion is situated on a hill by Gyeongpoho Lake on Korea’s east coast. The pavilion offers great views of the sea and the lake. The sight of the moon reflecting on the lake at night is so impressive and inspiring that the pavilion has been visited by people for centuries.
Ganworam Hermitage is a small Buddhist temple in Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do. Ganworam looks like it is floating on the sea during high tide, while the land under the temple is exposed with a path connecting it to the mainland during low tide. The hermitage is popular for watching the moon as well as the sunset.
Wolchulsan literally means "mountain of the rising moon," and the view of the moon rising above the peaks is indeed one worth seeing. Wolchulsan Mountain has several dramatic peaks that join together to create a splendid view. The mountain is a popular place to hike at night during the full moon.
Dalmaji-gil Road is well-known as a place where couples can come to make a wish on the full moon for their love to stay strong. The combination of myth and beautiful landscape is what attracts many young couples on romantic dates.
Various regions throughout the nation hold annual Jeongwol Daeboreum events in order to keep Korea’s traditional culture alive. If you are looking to enjoy hands-on experiences on Korean folk customs, check out some of the following events!
* This column was last updated in February 2017, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check the details before visiting.