Slipping, sliding, wrestling, showering, painting and getting pretty much plastered in mud is one of those ‘travel aspirations’ I have wanted to tick-off for some time.
But I do not mean just any kind of mud, I mean ‘Boryeong Mud’, South Korea’s high-quality west sea mud is mineral rich, containing germanium and bentonite, both of which are great for the skin.
Last month, I had my wish granted, when I travelled to ‘Boryeong’ on one of the hottest days of the year. The festival area is dwarfed by the wide, sandy and sea-shell filled ‘Daechon beach’ that stretches far into the distance and can only be described as pristine and uncrowded; the scope to expand the festival looks unlimited in every sense of the word.
The festival has also reached somewhat of a ‘cult status’ amongst the expatriate communities living in Korea. Boryeong attracts a young, beautiful and generally well-toned audience, ready to dive head long down a huge inflatable slide, have buckets of mud thrown over them within a make-shift prison and to be literally painted, from follicles to toes, using their bodies as mud canvases in the pursuit of total mud immersion.
This festival is also one of the signature events in the country that the ministry of culture and tourism specifically designated. However, the vast majority of festivals on the Korean peninsula are largely unknown beyond its borders, yet a few have the right ingredients to attract festival-goers from around the world.
If we look at the UK market, Glastonbury for example, draws in visitors from every corner of the globe, contributes more than £100 million to the economy annually and is a celebration of the diversity of the UK’s live music industry.
The Boryeong Mud Festival has all the components to be one of the most recognised festivals in the world.
Designation by the Korean government is maybe the first step to showcase it, but that needs to be supported by greater funding, celebrity endorsements and for organisers to align themselves and collaborate with other major worldwide festivals.
The Boryeong Mud Festival has already shaken hands with ‘La Tomatina – Tomato Throwing Festival’ in Spain, maybe it is time to do the same with ‘Glastonbury Music Festival’ after all, Glastonbury is well known for becoming a muddy quagmire if the weather turns sour, so at least they have one very important aspect in common.
Any comments? Email Annie Byrne