Jeju Fire Festival

March 07, 2016


Setting a mountain on fire seemed crazy to me, but upon further research, I found that burning the dry grassland was common back in the day. It was done on farms to kill pests. By doing this gave way to new grass for animals. In recent years, it has turned into a popular spring festival attracting tourists from all over the world. And no one does an eclectic festival like Korea! In my last post called Hibernation is Over, I mentioned that I was slowly coming out of hibernation. And, no joke, it was a struggle to get out of bed for the fire festival. When it was all said and done, I am happy I attended.

I was not sure how the whole thing would go down, but it was truly a beautiful chaos. Some patrons waited for the fireworks on the side of the mountain under tents while others waited at the bottom of the mountain. After the fireworks, everyone grabbed torches, poured gasoline on each torch, then the torches were lit with a flame. I could not believe my eyes! Some people walked orderly up to the mountain and threw the torches onto the dry grass. It was basically legal arson if you ask me! Dare I say it, it was spiritual, too! All this happened while the police kept pushing people away from the fire because the fire only got bigger.

Where: Each year the festival is held at Saebyeol Oreum (an oreum is a small mountain) on Jeju Island. 

Cost: The festival is free and there are free shuttle buses to and from the festival. My friends and I took a local bus (not free) to and from the venue, but it was more convenient than taking the free shuttle bus. Our bus driver was not the nicest, but we made it to and from the venue easily. We were coming from Seogwipo, so we took bus #780. For people coming from Jeju City, they would have taken bus #782.

The weather: With a 100 % possibility of rain, I knew the festival was either going to be very goooooood or very bad. It all turned out to be very goooooood. Amidst all the rain, my friends and I made the best of the situation and laughed at every single rain drop. Staying positive is always the best policy. In years before, the festival was held in February, but this year it was held in March. I loved that it was warmer because I am not a fan of frigid temps. 

Vendors and shuttle buses:The festival itself was well planned with many vendors and free shuttle buses. It's unfortunate it was pissing rain because I think most vendors didn't make the profit they had anticipated.  Nonetheless, there were tons of food and drinks available for patrons. My friends and I broke our umbrellas because it was very windy. We were almost shit our of luck when a guy came over and gave us free rain coats. This was awesome because it came at the right time. People here are so damn nice! Also, I was putting my raincoat on and a guy saw me struggling to get it on (it was windy and I already had 3 jackets on) and he came over and helped me! I appreciated the help and my faith in humanity was restored in that moment :)

I would definitely recommend going to this festival it was hella fun! It was a memorable experience for a small town girl like myself.  Where else in the world can I set a mountain on fire legally? Where can you set a mountain on fire legally? Maybe there are other places, but Jeju Fire Festival should be a must for locals, expats and tourist alike. 

Also, see this post ▶︎10 Photos from Jeju Fire Festival

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