Since 1998, South Korea has been annually hosting one of the wildest festivals around, wherein glorious mud becomes your new clothing. The event takes place in Boryeong City, which lies 190km west of Seoul, and celebrates the benefits of cosmetic items produced from the Boryeong mud flats. Participants pay homage in the most imaginative ways possible, with mud survival fights, mud slides, mud baths, mud fountains, mud fireworks, mud spa, mud wrestling and even a mud marathon!
Fear no mud
Prepare yourself psychologically beforehand to be covered with mud from head to toe. You may think you can come in and be spared. But alas no, clean people will be particularly targeted so they blend in with the overall crowd. If you deliberately cover yourself as little as possible with mud, you will be sent directly to mud prison! Tourists are routinely jailed for being too clean.
Embrace the mud
Don’t be scared to jump into and roll around in the mud. It may look dirty at first but it is actually full of healthy benefits. Boryeong mud is renowned for its cosmetics purities as it has high mineral levels (germanium and bentonite). It softens the skin, improves blood circulation, detoxifies the body and balances pH levels. So why go without it? We advise visitors to get as much benefit as possible by heading to the mud baths and spa. For an extra thrill, head to the mud slide!
Most people will participate in their swimming suit, so don’t worry if you thought you were going to be the only one. We recommend against wearing full clothing as once you are covered with mud it will get very heavy and unpleasant, not to mention smelly. Do not consider wearing shoes either; as they’ll become a nightmare when full of mud. If you must, go with simple flip-flops instead. If you wear glasses be very cautious as they’ll be very easy to lose in the mud. Not to mention that you won’t see much when they’re splashed with the brown stuff.
Before going to the festival, plan on cutting your finer and toe nails. You don’t want to have dried mud stuck in there afterwards. At the festival, if you feel the mud on your body is getting too heavy, it may be time for a rinse. You can either make use of the ample showers available onsite or go jump into the sea at the beach next door. If you plan to go back after a clean up, just make sure you get re-applied with mud quickly or you’ll run the risk of being sent to the mud prison!
Make sure to be careful with your eyes, ears and mouth, as the mud can cause irritation for the skin and worse when accidently swallowed. As you may lose your friends or relatives in the fray – they’ll all look like the same when covered with mud – make sure to designate a meeting point in case you get separated. If you can, keep your belongings and clothes in a car or other secure location. Otherwise, bring a waterproof bag along to protect your valuables. If you plan to record amazing memories with your camera or phone, make sure it is VERY well protected. Mud splashes will come from any and everywhere, so be on your guard.
The mud marathon isn’t like anything you’ve ever tried. When covered and running on mud, you quickly learn that even just standing upright can be a challenge. If you want to win the mud marathon, try your best not to slide as you will lose precious time. Look straight ahead to keep your balance as best you can. Good luck! Otherwise, for something a little less dramatic, the mud photo contest also allows you the chance to walk away a winner. In short, the more mud you get yourself covered in, the more chances you’ll have to win. So here is an advice: don’t spare any part of your body and face and go for glory. If you look like a statue, you’ll most likely score first place.
The festival is open daily from 09:30-18:00, with a break from 12:30-13:20. Admission ranges from ₩10,000 for adults (aged 20-64) to ₩8,000 for teens (middle and high-school students), ₩9,000 / ₩7,000 for adult / teen groups (20+ people) respectively and ₩7,000 for families (aged 3 to 64). Getting to Boryeong City is relatively simple; you can make your own way, join a tour or take public transport, with travel time being approximately 2-3 hours by car/bus or train respectively.