The Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival, held every year along the Namgang River in Jinju-si Gyeongsangnam-do, is one of the most popular Korean festivals of all time.
Officially designated one of Korea’s best festivals by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in the years 2011 and 2012, the festival dates all the way back to the Jinjuseong Battle (1592) of Imjin Waeran (Japanese Invasion, 1592-1598). During the war, lanterns were used as military signals, a means of communicating with reserve forces, and as a way to keep in touch with family members outside of Jinjuseong Fortress. Even after the war, people continued the tradition of floating lanterns down the river to pay tribute to the the brave souls who had been lost during battle. The tradition later developed into the Jinju Namgang Festival, the Korean lantern festival we know and love today.
Magnificent yet humble, the hundreds of Yudeung lanterns spread throughout the festival grounds are not only a visually stunning sight—their shapes also carry great significance. Many of the lanterns represent the nation’s traditions and symbols (tigers, traditional instruments, Korean dances, etc.). Even famous events in Korean history and legends are told through lantern displays, with each miniseries telling its own tale. Of course, with Korea’s continued focus on globalization, it’s not surprising that there is also a section of lanterns shaped like animals and other symbols that represent over 30 countries from around the world.
Despite the astounding array of lantern shapes, colors, and folktales, one of the most popular areas of the festival is the “Tunnel of Wish Lanterns.” In the tunnel, over 27,000 wish lanterns bob and sway in the wind, each bearing an earnest plea from a festival visitor. As you stroll through the illuminated tunnel of dreams and hopes, it’s not hard to believe that each dream really can come true. In the evening (18:00-23:00), you’ll have the chance to make your own lantern and follow in the spirit of the ancients as you send it down Namgang River.
This year, the festival saw the addition of a romantic floating café and now boasts an impressive 1,258 lanterns in all, adding an extra bit of sparkle to one of Korea’s most inspiring festivals of light.
- Lanterns of Korean Traditions
- Lanterns showcasing the nation’s proud traditions, culture, and folk games fill Jinjuseong Fortress and Namgang River. Come dusk when the lanterns are lit, scenes from the Jinjuseong Battle (fencing, martial arts on horseback, etc.) come to life in a gentle glow that warms the fall night air.
- World Lanterns
- Super-sized lanterns of landmarks, animals, customs, and traditions representing 30 different countries – the Statue of Liberty (USA), the Sphinx (Egypt), a kangaroo (Australia), the Trojan horse (Turkey), and a windmill (Holland) – float along the river in an eye-catching display.
- Make Your Own Lantern
- Join in this popular program to make your own wish lantern. After writing your wish, light your lantern and send it down Namgang River to carry your dreams into reality.
Operating hours: 18:00-23:00 every day.
Participation Fee: 3,000 won
* Times and price subject to change.
- Floating Bridge of Love
- From the floating bridge on Namgang River, enjoy the enchanting glow of the lantern lights all over the river. Don’t miss the breathtaking night view of Chokseongnu Pavilion of Jinjuseong Fortress located across the river.
Operating hours: 10:00-24:00 every day
One-way crossing: Adults: 1,000 won / Students: 500 won
- Ferry on Namgang River
- Take a closer look at the lanterns of Namgang River as you ride along in style. On the ferry, a Korean Culture & Tourism Guide (Korean only) will explain more about the history of Jinju and the lanterns.
Daytime (13:00 – 18:00): Adults (14+): 4,000 won / Children (under 8): 2,000 won
Nighttime (18:00-24:00): Adult (14+): 5,000 won / Children (under 8): 3,000 won
Jinjuseong Fortress (where the festival takes place) is one of the major tourist attractions in Jinju. By day, visit Chokseongnu Pavilion and the Jinju National Museum located inside the fortress. As dusk falls, check out the lanterns and the hands-on festival experience programs just outside the fortress walls. Throughout the festival period, admission to Jinjuseong Fortress and Chokseongnu Pavilion is free of charge.
One of the local specialties of Jinju is broiled eel. To enjoy this healthy and delicious dish, visit one of the riverside restaurants outside Jinjuseong Fortress.
If you’re coming from another town to visit the Jinju lantern festival, you may want to plan a one-night, two-day stay in Jinju. The festival venue is easily accessible via public transportation and a variety of accommodation options are located nearby. The Jinju Express Bus Terminal is only 5 minutes away from the festival venue by taxi, and a number of inns and Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal are only about 10 minutes away on foot.
<2012 Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival Video Clips>
2012 Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival
☞ Period: October 1 - 14, 2012
☞ Venue: Gyeongsangnam-do Jinju-si Namgang River area and Jinjuseong Fortress
☞ Jinju Namgang Yudeung (lantern) Festival homepage: www.yudeung.com
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Jinju-si homepage: http://www.jinju.go.kr/main/ (Korean, English, Japanese)
☞ 1330 tt call center: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
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Last updated on September 20, 2012