Boryeong, South Korea: The mud trucked in to Daecheon Beach for the festival is said to have cosmetic effects, but that isn’t why 2 million or so ex-pats, locals and tourists muck it up, slathering themselves in mud while slinging beer and soju in Ziploc bags. It’s just down-and-dirty fun. There’s also mud-skiing, a mud king contest, as well as fireworks at night. Tip: take a dip before you leave.
About This Festival
Getting dirty has never been so much fun. Beauty product for some, excuse to channel their inner child for others, Boryeong Mud means many things to many people. This filthy festival involves wrestling, sliding, massages, and photo contests. The dates vary from year to year. In 2016, it was held July 16 thru July 24.
A Dirty Marketing Idea is Born
The idea for the festival began in 1998 as a promotion for the mineral-rich mud found near Boryeong, South Korea. When the manufacturers of Boryeong Mud products determined the beneficial effects of their local mud, they invited visitors to slather themselves in the stuff. The event took on a life of its own rather quickly, attracting thousands of visitors to this otherwise sleepy town annually for the beach, the warm weather, and, of course, the mud.
Things Get Dirty Fast
Fueled by word of mouth, good times and exceptional photographs of mud people, the festival has become an international phenomenon. Families picnic under beach umbrellas, toddlers splash in the kid-friendly area, and the under-30 crowd (generally traveling English teachers, members of the military, and students) are the front-and-center partiers inside an inflatable mud wonderland. Festival-goers have their pick of competitive activities like the Mr. Mud contest, mud wrestling, mud races and even a mud boot camp. Those looking for a more laid back experience can opt for mud facials, body painting, pottery demos, soap-making and lounging on Daecheon Beach.
There’s no need to worry about getting all this gooey grey mud out of your hair, either: showers are abundant and available for a modest fee, as are lockers that can be used to store a fresh and clean outfit. Rinsing off in the ocean is also an option, albeit a less effective one if you plan to impress after your mudbath. Finally, after you’ve wallowed in Boryeong’s thick gray ooze, you can pick up some of the local beauty products, including mudpacks, mud shampoo, mud soap, mud sunblock – remember, this was the original intention of this festival!
More Than Just Mud
Although the main attraction is, of course, the mud, Boryeong features an impressive entertainment lineup as well. Pop and hip-hop performers from around the world affirm its status as an international event, providing an eclectic soundtrack to the wet and wild madness. Don’t miss the huge global rave on the evening of the closing ceremonies, or Friday’s Korean b-boy show. Keep your eye out for opening and closing night fireworks, as well as parades and other cultural performances during the week.
In the end, the thing that sets Boryeong apart is the mud play. The spirit of conviviality across cultures and ages is a function of the anonymity everyone experiences while covered in mud. As Jae-Sang Lee, Director of Korea Tourism Organization, says, “The most distinctive point of the Festival is to create a united place where people from all over the world come together, meet and interact with strangers and are able to break down walls of age, nationality, race and have fun together and leave with memories and new friends.” All are one under the mud.