Making the Grade of Worldwide Festivals

이훈기l승인2016.09.01l수정2016.09.06 13:33l348호 1면

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 During vacation time, many Dankookians have an opportunity to visit famous attractions and take part in various festivals in Korea and overseas. These festivals could be a part of the historical and cultural phenomenon of a local community and their success is often attributed to the development of local governments and our ever-improving national competitiveness. According to the magazine ‘Issues & Diagnosis’, festivals in Korea result in 238 new jobs for every 10 billion won of a festival’s budget and 387 billion won in revenue.

 In Korea, there are a few popular festivals for Koreans and foreigners alike to enjoy. The most popular festivals are the ‘Boryeong Mud Festival’, ‘Pusan Film Festival’, ‘Jinju Lantern Festival’, ‘Jindo Sea Parting Festival’, and the ‘Andong Mask Festival’.  In the case of the ‘Boryeong Mud Festival’, 3 million people including 300,000 foreigners take part in this event that earns organizers about 1 trillion won of return from production, employment and added value annually. Also, new festivals like the ‘2016 Daegu Chi-mac Festival’ was also well received by people.

 However, as compared to many festivals that take place worldwide, Korea has few to speak of. There were only 50 festivals in 1980, but that number increased quickly with the start of local government. According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the number of festivals for 2016 is 693. If you include unofficial festivals, hosted by local governments and associations, that number may rise to about 2000.

▲ Samba festival is a representative festival in the world.

 Of these festivals, many of them come and go, as they are not yet established as national tourist attractions. There are many famous festivals that take place worldwide that led to a positive image of a country and attract foreigners from abroad. For example, the three biggest and most famous global festivals are the Samba Festival, Octoberfest, and the Sapporo Snow Festival. First, the ‘Samba Festival’ is held over 4 days in February in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The highlight of the event is a Samba parade. Many people who participate in this parade prepare for a year at a Samba School. Every year hundreds of thousands of people visit Rio for the Samba Festival. It is estimated that as much as one third of the visitors to Brazil in February are there to attend that festival. ‘Octoberfest’ is another example of a famous festival. It is held in Munich, Germany during the month of October.  It is famous for its German beer usually accompanied by a bratwurst sausage. For the children who cannot drink beer, the festival includes a theme park that the whole family can enjoy. From kids to the elderly, everyone is in traditional clothes and promoting their cultural roots.  The last festival we want to showcase is the ‘Sapporo Snow Festival’ which takes place in Japan over 7 days in February. The festival begun when students in 1950 carved out 6 ice statues. Since then, every year citizens select a theme and produce around 400 ice sculptures in keeping with the subject.  

 While these three festivals are very different, the one thing they have in common is that their origins and beginnings came from the participation of the nation and its citizens. These festivals were not created by national or local governments. Their beginnings came from the participation and enjoyment of its residents. In Korea, many local festivals are neglected by its residents.

 In Korea, many local festivals are neglected by its residents. To know the problems of the festivals in Koreas, the DKH interviewed Jo A-young (Konkuk University, College of Art and Design). She had much experience with trips and festivals. She likes to visit lots of different countries. Also she likes to experience other countries’ cultures and festivals. The DKH asked her most memorable festival in Korea and other country. She said “I like the fireworks festival Hanabi in Japan and the water gun festival (WGF) in Sinchon. I have a fantasy of Japanese festival and I didn’t hold out much hope for WGF but it was very fun therefore I both remember.” However, she added that Japanese festival is more memorable festival than Korean festival. So the DKH asked the reason of that thought. “Korean festivals are too expensive but they didn’t prepare for what audiences pay for the festival. In case of Seoul International Fireworks Festival was wrecked by everything. The traffic was mess and the number of staffs was not much than audiences. Also trash was all over the floor. In contrast, Japanese’s festivals are clean and kindness also most of people are well-mannered. Korea festival should bring their manners to our festival.” She answered the reasons compare with Japan. So the DKH can know one of the problems is a lack of preparation.

Also, there are other problems of local festivals. Their format is merely copied from the success of festivals overseas without introducing any originality or consideration for local culture. Rather than producing a simple unoriginal festival, Korea should look to develop events based on regional characteristics that can attract foreigners and local citizens alike. To produce a successful event, and be able to resolve possible problems, it is important to have a creative program and host festivals in accordance with the characteristics of each local community. Also, in order to be successful, they need to be enjoyed and participated in by the local citizens first.

 In order to develop a successful festival that attracts visitors from around the globe, our attention to it and any elements that attract citizen are priorities.  The government and locals must refer to the good examples from home and abroad to ensure a domestic festival is complete.  In the end, we should not miss any opportunity to enjoy and promote our diverse culture.


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