If there’s one thing that Jeju is amazing at, it has to be festivals. There seems to be a festival every weekend, and there’s no better way to soak up some Korean culture. Last weekend, me and my friends went to the annual Jeju Fire Festival, and it was awesome! This festival is held in order to bring everyone together to pray for a good harvest and a healthy year. The main event of the festival is a hill burning ceremony, and it really is quite something as you can see above. This is purely ceremonial, but it does stem from the traditional farming method of burning to improve land quality.
Before everything went up in the flames, there was a rather impressive firework show; the theme was a volcano erupting! There were also lots of stalls and games, plus a lot of delicious Korean foods to try. We arrived a bit late, but we still managed to have a delicious buffet of BBQ and Korean pancakes, washed down with plenty of soju and beer. For those not familiar with soju, it’s basically the Korean equivalent of vodka, but not as strong. Soju is commonly drunk with meals, and some people even mix it into their beer. I’m not a big fan, so I brought some delicious red wine with me instead, my favorite!
Events such as the Jeju Fire Festival have been a great way for me to immerse myself in Korean culture, and I try to get involved with as much as I can on the island. I’ve even just got a membership so that I can go and watch the local football team (soccer to you!), Jeju United. Again, this is a great cultural experience, because it’s so different from going to see a match in England. It’s a real family event, and you can bring your own food and beer! Also, it’s a great way to bond with Koreans, which can be quite hard with the language barrier. As a Jeju United supporter would say, my blood now runs orange – Go Jeju!