The Jeolwol Daeboreum festivities date back hundreds of years and it is still amazing to see just how many people come out to these celebrations. This festival is held on the first full moon of the lunar year. The typical celebrations will start in the afternoon with singing and dancing until the final main event. Here in Ulsan, the main event is the burning of the Daljib. The Daljib is the large pile of straw and branches that gets burned to ward off evil spirits and misfortune in the new year.
I have visited the festival for almost my entire time here in Korea and I must say that it is one of my favorite festivals. There is a sense of hope in the air and people burn messages hoping for good luck in the coming year. There is also the build up to the burning of the Daljib that really gets people “fired up” (sorry had to). I am not sure what it is about fire but it really grips people and this year was no different.
The one thing missing from recent years was the jwibulnori. Normally it was used to spread fire around the fields but during the festivals people would swing the cans of fire around in a circle. Sadly I think that too many people got hurt and organizers stopped allowing it.
While there are events scattered all across the country and the city, the one that I usually go to is the one down at Ilsan Beach. It is the largest event in Ulsan and with the heavy traffic around any festival in Korea, it is also the easiest for me to get to. What amazed me most about this year was the fact that I was able to find parking near the Daljib. I was worried that I would miss the event while trying to find parking.
The event was in full swing when I got there. As I said before, I really one come to see the Daljib burn. Thus, I was in and out in about an hour. I was really shocked at how fast the Daljib burned. At any rate, it was great to see so many people hoping for better luck in the new year.