15 Incredibly Dramatic Photos of Jeju Fire Festival

Things heat up at the Jeju Fire Festival
Things heat up at the Jeju Fire Festival | © Jeju Tourism Organization
Mimsie Ladner

Situated off the southern coast of South Korea, Jeju Island is a mystical place, home to UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites, stunning coastal scenery and some age old traditions. We explore the Jeongwol Daeboreum Field Burning Festival, also known as the Jeju Fire Festival.

The festival is rooted in the tradition of bangae, in which farmers set their pastures alight to get rid of old grass and kill harmful pests between late winter and early spring, before the cattle and horses grazed in the fields. It was traditionally held on the first full moon of the new lunar year. Nowadays, however, it celebrates the arrival of spring, and takes place during gyungchip, (which takes place in March), a period of time in which frogs are thought to wake up from their winter sleep.

The burning of the daljip

The highlight of the festival is the burning of the daljip. Literally meaning, “moon house,” daljip are large bonfire structures made of pine tree branches and other logs, which were typically set on fire with the rise of the full moon. It was believed that these fires would help deliver villagers’ prayers for good fortune, protection from evil and a good harvest.

Daljip were traditionally burned on the first full moon of the new lunar year

Thousands of visitors travel from all around the country to witness the spectacle and in addition to the bonfire, a number of other events and cultural activities are held, such as fireworks displays, K-pop concerts, and deumdol, a competition in which participants compete to carry giant boulders. In ancient times, this traditional sporting event was an integral part of the coming of age ceremony of the island’s residents.

Experience the beauty of the Jeju Fire Festival for yourself in the images below.

Flags mark the site of the festival, Saebyeol Oreum
Mongolian horse riding demonstration
Cultural programs at the Jeju Fire Festival
Things begin to heat up
The festival is rooted in the tradition of bangae
Participants celebrate the beginning of spring with song and dance
The fires are said to deliver prayers for good fortune
The Jeju Fire Festival is representative of the island’s unique cultural heritage
Fireworks illuminate Jeju’s island sky
Festival goers wonder at the beauty of the Jeju Fire Festival
The Saebyeol Oreum area is brought to life with a warm, fiery glow
Torch marching for good fortune in the new year
Festival visitors take in a spectacular fireworks display

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