Somehow I knew about the Boryeong Mud Festival, or more commonly referred to as Mudfest, before I even arrived in Korea. I’m not sure where I first learned of it; it was just the ubiquitous event that all expats in Korea raved about as THE party of the year. So, naturally, when summer rolled around I signed up with the leagues of other foreigners looking to get drunk and dirty on a beach and anxiously awaited the day I could finally attend this holy grail of festivals. The first time around, however, left me a little disappointed.
Last year, I didn’t entirely know what to expect. I had envisioned wrestling around in giant mud pits and schlepping through mucky beaches, but truth be told there wasn’t an ounce of authentic mud to be found. Unless of course by “mud” you mean clay colored dirty water of questionable hygiene; well, then yes, there was mud.
The mud area of the Boryeong Mud Festival is an enclosed area made up mostly of giant inflatable water slides and pools filled with muddy water. The cost for entry is 10,000 won and there generally looked to be long lines for all of the slides, so we opted not to go in. But outside of the enclosure last year were fountains of mud that anyone could use to rub themselves down with mud to get the full “look at me, I’m at mudfest” effect. Thousands and thousands of people mill around the mud area and on the beach, and it truly is an event of epic proportions. Overall, it was fun but simply not what I had expected, so I left feeling somewhat let down.
I almost didn’t go again, but this year a group of friends were going and I decided to give Mudfest another chance. And I’m so glad I did. Knowing what to expect this year, I realized this (and here’s my big truth-ism for you): Mudfest is exactly what you make of it. All in all, it is a beach party with the novelty of getting to rub yourself down with a little mud. On Saturday night there is an awesome fireworks display and on Sunday afternoon low flying fighter jets roar above the water in synchronized flips and turns, trailing streams of bright colored smoke behind them.
This year, I had a blast. The people on our bus started the party right away, so I somehow found myself more than a little tipsy before noon (what’s my age again?). We played on the beach, doused ourselves in mud, swam in the wonderfully warm ocean, made new friends and saw old friends, played games, and laughed and danced and partied the night away until 4am.
But one more piece of advice… sunscreen is advisable.
Have you been to Mudfest? What did you think?