Travel Highlights

Jeongwol Daeboreum Celebrations and the Best Places to View the Full Moon

  • Tag Event Food History
  • Date02/11/2016
  • Hit30916

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 2016, Jeongwol Daeboreum falls on February 22 of the Gregorian calendar.

In the morning of Jeongwol Daeboreum, people wish for good health and fortune for the year by cracking the shell of a peanut or walnut with their teeth; they also wish for only good news during the year by drinking cheongju, a clear, strained rice wine. To celebrate this first full moon of the lunar calendar, people also share dishes like ogok-bap (boiled rice with five grains) and namul (seasoned vegetables) with their neighbors.

Other famous traditions for Daeboreum include jwibulnori and sajanori. Jwibulnori, or playing with fire, involves burning rice fields and vegetable gardens to kill insect pests and to ease cultivation for the coming season. Sajanori is the more festive tradition. For sajanori, men form a parade wearing lion masks. The culmination of the celebration takes place at night in the tradition of dalmaji, which entails visiting high places to view the full moon and make wishes with friends and family.

Photo: Sajanori to ward off spirits in the village

Photo: Burning of straw to chase off evil and call in good luck (left) / Jwibulnori to clear the fields of insects (right)

○ Customs and Traditions of Jeongwol Daeboreum

  • Drinking gwibalgisul:
    A tradition of drinking cheongju, a cold clear, strained rice wine to bring good news all year round.
  • Cracking bureom:
    Bureom are nuts, such as peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, and gingko nuts. A common tradition of Jeongwol Daeboreum is to crack a nut in your mouth early in the morning. This is believed to help strengthen teeth and avoid skin problems in the coming year.
  • Sharing ogok-bap rice:
    Ogok-bap is steamed rice made with five grains (rice, Foxtail millet, sorghum, red beans, beans). The rice is eaten with various wild vegetables and is shared on the eve of Jeongwol Daeboreum as it 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 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. In the past, people believed that if one stomped on the ground, the gods of the earth would look over the person living there and give them good fortune. 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 as a way of thanks.
  • 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. The belief was that the winning side of the village would have a bountiful harvest throughout the coming year.
  • Deowipalgi:
    Deowipalgi literally means "selling heat." This fun, symbolic tradition involves visiting a friend or family member and calling his or her name before sunrise. 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. If you do not want to be caught, you must answer “Buy my heat and go” to anyone calling your name.

Korea's Six Best Full Moon Viewing Spots

Seoul > N Seoul Tower
Full moon watching from the best observatory in Seoul

Located on Namsan Mountain, N 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 N Seoul Tower, or enjoy a walk in the neighboring park.

Gyeonggi-do Gwangju > Namhansanseong Fortress
Enjoy the moonlight from this historic site

Namhansanseong Fortress is located on Namhansan Mountain, which spans across three cities in Gyeonggi-do, including Gwangju-si, Seongnam-si, and Hanam-si. Here, visitors get great views of the full moon from the Sueojangdae command post, as well as night views of the Songpa-gu district of Seoul and the central part of Gyeonggi-do. Visit some of the historical sites at Namhansanseong Fortress to enjoy great views of the full moon.

Gangwon-do > Gangneung > Gyeongpodae Pavilion
Full moon reflections on the ocean and lake

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 scholars and poets for centuries.

Chungcheongnam-do> Seosan > Ganworam Hermitage
Revel in the moonlit ocean view

Ganworam Hermitage is a small Buddhist temple in Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do. It has been said that the Great Master Muhak, the most pious monk of the Joseon Dynasty, found enlightenment here while watching the moon. Ganworam looks like it is floating on the sea during high tide, while during low tide, the land under the temple is exposed with a path connecting it to the mainland. The hermitage is popular for watching the moon as well as the sunset.

Jeollanam-do > Yeongam > Wolchulsan Mountain
The full moon rising between mountain peaks

Wolchul literally means "the rising of the moon." The view of the moon rising above the peaks of Wolchulsan Mountain is indeed one worth seeing. Though Wolchulsan Mountain rises only 809 meters above sea level, it 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.

Busan > Haeundae Dalmaji-gil Road
Romantic spot for moon watching

Dalmaji-gil Road is situated on Wausan Mountain between Haeundae Beach and Songjeong Beach. Halfway up the road is Dalmaji Park. Many coffee shops dot the road from Dalmaji Hill to Haewoljeong Pavilion, attracting young couples on romantic dates.

○ Jeongwol Daeboreum Celebration Events

In the past, Korean families made ogok-bap, cracked bureom, played jwibulnori or burned daljip with neighbors in the fields to celebrate Jeongwol Daeboreum. Nowadays, it is rare to see these traditional events in cities; however, some regions try to keep them alive by holding annual Jeongwol Daeboreum events.

* This column was last updated in January 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check from the official websites before visiting.

<Last updated on January 27, 2016>