Thursday, 2 May 2013

Jindo Sea-Parting Festival: Part 1

Last weekend, some friends and I went on a trip down south to the island of Jindo with Seoul Hiking Group. Jindo is famous for an annual festival at which visitors and locals gather at the coast to walk across a parting sea. The sea level only drops this low two or three times per year, and the phenomenon has been dubbed the "Moses Miracle" of Korea. Thousands of people flock from all over the country to walk across the small strip of land that becomes exposed as the sea level drops. This strip extends for two miles, connecting Jindo with the nearby island of Modo.

According to legend, Jindo was once populated by ferocious tigers, which begun to attack local villagers. The villagers decided to flee to the nearby island of Modo. In their panic, they accidentally left behind an elderly woman named Ppong. The old lady prayed to the Dragon God of the Sea to be reunited with her family. One day, the Dragon God spoke to her in a dream, telling her to go to the shore near Modo. The next morning she did as he said, and crossed to Modo as the Dragon God parted the sea for her.

It took seven hours on the bus before we reached Jindo island in the extreme southwest of the country.

One of the first things we saw when we arrived at the festival area were a bunch of Jindo dogs (named after the island on which they were first bred) trapped inside an otherwise disused building.
Waiting to sort out tents and food.
These ladies in cool hats arrived. We'd see them later on during the sea-parting festivities.
We found a strip of grass running alongside the beach and pitched our tents.

Angela and me posing in the snazzy orange boots we bought for crossing the sea.
A group shot. Apparently Angela didn't feel like jumping that day.
Heading out onto the beach to test out our orange miracle-boots. 

YES. No leakage.

This man was tossing bottles of the locally-brewed beverage, hongju.
Sampling the hongju. 
Vicky, Kimmi, Angela and Jocelyn take a photo with a local Korean couple.
Angela and Matt testing out the drums. 

Dancers encircle a statue of old lady Ppong and a Jindo tiger.

These photographers climbed up the seaside cliffs to get a better vantage point.
The crossing was relatively thin at this point.
From the rocky seashore, locals were cutting up live squid and feeding it to festival-goers, tentacles still wriggling on the plate. Angela and I didn't try any on this occasion (one day we will, mark my words).

Entering the crowds.
Many locals use the parting as an opportunity to dig up oysters, cockles and other treasures of the sea.
Most people were wearing rubber boots like us, but some crossed in nothing but sandals...
...or in some cases, socks.

Click here to continue the adventure in Part 2!

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