Officially named Jeju Field Burning Festival, this was every pyromaniac’s fantasy: large volumes of fireworks being launched into the air, followed by setting a whole orum (volcanic mound) alight. As a child who repeatedly had candles taken away from him, it was a place I was very happy to be. Supposedly this was a ceremony to pray for health and a good harvest in the coming year.
On an extremely windy day, I arrived late to find cars queueing along the side of the motorway as they battled to reach the festival grounds. Along the side of the roads, signage and decorations proudly announced the festival.
At the back of the festival grounds, food and drink was served.
Some of it looked more delicious than other. These are crustaceans that you suck out of their shell.
While we were messing around at the food stands, the fireworks started.
Like a child, I was excited. Particularly when the orum was set on fire. There was so much fire.
In chilling winds, we ran to the front to try and warm ourselves on the flames.
Wary of the flames spreading, firefighters sprayed water onto the flames. Did no-one tell them it was a fire festival?
Then we all danced.
While I greatly enjoyed myself for a couple of minutes, I can’t help but feel setting things on fire is not particularly conducive to good harvest or health: they burnt the crops and choked people with smoke.
As there was lots of pretty fire, it was fine by me.
Photos by Leah, The Vegetarian Traveller.