A little back story to the festival.
“The yudeung (lanterns) that are floated along the Namgang River in Jinju commemorate the anniversary of the Jinjuseong Battles that took place during one of the most violent parts of the Imjinwaeran (Japanese Invasion of Korea starting in 1592). In October of 1592, General Kim Si-min gathered no more than 3,800 soldiers to miraculously defeat over 20,000 Japanese troops invading Jinjuseong. The ‘Jinjudaecheop (Great Victory of Jinju)’ immensely heightened the pride of the Korean nation and has become a much-celebrated part the country’s history, marked annually by the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival.”
I got a similar story while talking to my co teacher about this festival. She mentioned that during this invasion the Japanese soldiers would take company with Gisaeng (Korean women entertainers.) One in particular Nongae, seduced the Japanese General while on a rock that over looks the Namgang river. She attacked him and locked her fingers around his body and fell into the river- never letting go. She wanted to kill him but in return she sacrificed herself.
On Saturday we woke up early and walked to the bus terminal (thats right by my house!!!) and hopped a bus to JinJu for 8,700 won. Aside from the screaming baby next to me, the fact that we were sitting in the very back in the elevated seats I slept and it only took about 2 hours.
Once we arrived, I don’t really know what was happening- I was just following my teachers who speak Korean. Jeff and I could relax and enjoy the fact that it felt like summer further south. Humidity was back but NOT nearly as bad as orientation. We stopped at a restaurant along the water and ate eel. I am pretty sure things got awkward as I keep hearing my teachers explain that “Eel is good for stamina.”
me: “Oh, well good!”
Co teachers: “haha well, Jeff you should eat more eel. See, men should eat more eel. For stamina like at night.”
Co teachers: “Men will fight each other to be able to eat the tail of the eel. They believe that it is very good for them.”
me: “Jeff theres the tail! You’re supposed to eat it!! Eat it!!”
*giggles all around*
Before I spoke, I didn’t realize HOW awkward that was. I looked at Jeff and he was red, I could feel my face getting hot. I made them all laugh so that is worth something. ^-^
The rest of the day was walking around the festival and visiting the national museum in JinJu. While we were inside the museum there was a sudden DOWN POUR! The rain was reminiscent of the rain we saw in Seoul the day before Chuseok (which i still haven’t blogged about…) It was crazy- people were coming from the woodwork to stand under the roof of the museum.
After the museum, we walked across the Namgang river to walk under tunnels of lanterns that were lit up to represent 1 Korean soldier who had died during that invasion.
We were able to make wishes and attach it to our “Year of the (insert here)” We are both Year of the Tiger so we found what looked liked like a tiger and found a good spot. It was a really great day and even though it got super rainy and muddy and my shoes are probably ruined- I’d recommend it!