Destination: Seoul Lantern Festival 2009

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The Seoul Patch beat me to the Seoul Lantern Festival by a day, but there’s still a few great opportunities to check out the Lantern Festival, sponsored by the rather silly-named ‘Visit Korea Year’. I’ve already written about that particular endeavor, but let’s separate the chaff from the wheat – these lanterns are definitely worth seeing and experiencing.


The Seoul Patch beat me to the Seoul Lantern Festival by a day, but there’s still a few great opportunities to check out the Lantern Festival, sponsored by the rather silly-named ‘Visit Korea Year’. I’ve already written about that particular endeavor, but let’s separate the chaff from the wheat – these lanterns are definitely worth seeing and experiencing.

A few Korean guards prime your eyes for the brightly-lit up lanterns – going during the nighttime is easily the best time to see these shapes and colors.

Very little information was available in English; the signs for each lantern were mainly in Korean, though a few also had Chinese characters to explain or interpret the piece a bit more.

Gwanghwamun (gate) – no idea if the real thing will look like that once it’s completed.

Possibly in the name of adding international flavor, some lanterns were less about throwing out lots of light and more about displaying some subtlety.

Here there be Chinese dragons!

OK, this lantern’s got me. Anybody have a clue?

Either they ran out of room, or they wanted to ensure the aliens would know where to look. The two smaller pyramids are attached via some wires running overhead.

Definitely a lot of traditional lanterns, though Korea finds a way to remind you of its modern-day life:

The tires bounced up and down as though you were watching a Monster Truck Rally, while the floating skateboard rotated around a circle.

Symbolizing perfect wisdom and royal power, the Buddha begins a trek on a white elephant towards Cheonggye Plaza and the beginning of the stream. Funny that he’s 2/3 of the way – about a kilometer or so – back.

Inside of a tunnel of smaller lanterns in a rainbow order.

The traditional ssireum – Korean wrestling – and a couple pagodas in the back.

Birds – The Seoul Patch mentions these are red-crowned cranes, which “is a Taoist symbol of longevity and immortality; it is also revered for its nobility”. Good enough for me.

While walking back underneath one of the tunnels, one of the most impressive (and creative) series came to light:

No, that’s not a Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger – that’s my Year of the Dog! All 12 Chinese astrological animals are presented anthropomorphically correct – no idea why a snake gets arms, but it does.

Although it ends on Sunday, the pictures and memories will live on for a long time to come.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks):
Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

Directions to Cheonggyecheon / Lantern Festival: Take line 1 or 2 of the Seoul subway system to the City Hall station. Take exit 4 to street level and walk about 400 meters. Look for the swirled needle pointing skyward and turn right. Keep walking straight, and head down to stream level (about 7 meters below street level) for the best views. Go at night, but bundle up and watch out for crowds. Free admission.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2009



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