The third time around, it’s still plenty of fun.
As with previous lantern festivals, the crowd was borderline overwhelming – especially on a Saturday night. Thankfully, this year featured some crowd control for the privilege of walking alongside the Cheonggyecheon stream – the later the night wore on, the longer that line got. Walking along the stream at street level was crowded, but manageable and without a line.
A look at the Joseon Dynasty – complete with a musical performance and one of the city’s gates.
A Korean marriage procession, complete with a tiny palanquin for the bride-to-be.
A long row of the games Joseon Dynasty kids used to play… sort of… Somehow I don’t think too many Joseon Dynasty kids wore earmuffs.
The local version of sledding – the girl in front is sitting on a small, square wooden sled.
This may look a little odd, but it’s actually a game called ‘Stake Driving’. Yeah, I know. The members of a defending team form a ‘horse’, while the other team climbs on top to play Paper, Rock, Scissors.
A tale about the man with the lump. He tricks a goblin to take away the lump and collects some treasure. When another man with a lump of his own tries to do the same thing, he gets scolded and earns himself a second lump. The moral of the story – be the first, don’t copy…?
The tale of Heungbu – a poor but kind Heungbu mends a sparrow’s broken leg, and is rewarded with treasure. Greedy Nolbu, meanwhile, tries to attain the wealth himself, only to end up punished.
A tale of the golden hatchet and silver hatchet. A mountain spirit finds an axe in the well, and asks a lumberjack, “is this your hatchet?”. By answering the question honestly, the lumberjack receives a golden hatchet.
Nothing like a myriad of same-colored lanterns over a bridge to promote a charitable cause.
A section of prize-winning lanterns – entitled ‘Lovers in the Moonlight’, this lantern depicts a painting of Shin Yun-bok and a couple enjoying their late-night date.
Granny Red Bean Porridge and the Tiger – after the grandmother is threatened by the tiger, the things she begs with come to her rescue. They eventually force the tiger into the river.
Christmas Lanterns from the Philippines.
The iconic Statue of Liberty – part of a section with a more international feel.
Danjong and the Gwaneum Pine. After King Danjong lost the throne to his uncle, Danjong fled to Gangwon-do. He sat beside the pine tree, reflecting on the past. The tree supposedly still grows today.
A display related to the Inje Festival – the wintry fish festival set to happen in Gangwon-do next January.
While I didn’t see any lanterns for sale, the sellers of light-up toys were out in full force.
The last section, ‘Exciting Seoul’, featured the same fire-breathing bird as seen during this year’s Buddha’s Birthday parade.
Pororo! It’s like the Korean version of Barney, but it’s less offensive to the ears.
Robot Taekwon V – first seen in 1976, this Taekwondo-performing robot towered over the Batman not far down the stream.
There’s one more weekend to check it out – but get to Cheonggyecheon soon. The last night is November 20th, and it closes at 11pm. Expect crowds, to say the least.
Ratings (out of 5 taeguks): How do I rate destinations?
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
Directions to Cheonggyecheon: take line 1 to City Hall station (exit 4) or line 5 to Gwanghwamun station (exit 5). Walk straight until you see the red-and-blue needle signifying the beginning of Cheonggyecheon.
Author’s note: this post first appeared on Travel Wire Asia, where many of my destination and life and Korea posts appear first.
© Chris Backe – 2011
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