Jinju’s lantern festival began as a bustling Asian market and finished off with a flashy evening display. Seoul Hiking Group arrived in Jinju for my first time as trip leader in the late afternoon. We strolled past booth after booth of locally produced goods and endless stalls filled with Korean street food.
Jinju is famous for silk production and the festival had a display of silk worms at different stages. The last tank showed how the bugs munch on leaves that have been sprayed different colors turning each worm into a colored silk weaving machine.
Wandering through the riverside we snacked from tent to tent before being engrossed by a hand powered coffee press adjacent to a wooden pencil maker. These experts were just a sampling of the local skills that were showcased before the sun went down.
Settling in along the river with a hearty plate of roast pig and bottles of makkeoli we eagerly awaited the 8pm fireworks display. Like clockwork the first rocket soared into the air at precisely 8pm lighting up the sky with a rainbow of colors as the lanterns floated beneath.
After the fireworks we had a few more hours to gaze at each unique lantern representing dozens of countries from around the world. America had the Statute of Liberty, France touted a mounted Napoleon, Australia a pair of boxing kangaroos and Italy the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Korean designers pick a symbol for each nation and design an elaborate paper lantern to proudly display along the river.
Further down I found a motorized multi-colored dragon (gif coming soon!) before heading into the bamboo forest and peeking at massive paper lantern masks. The bamboo forest itself was a small spectacle and I would love to visit its larger cousin someday. After exiting the forest I made my way back towards the bus stopping at a few animal lanterns to snap some final pictures before our journey to Namhae for tomorrows Oktoberfest!