Lonely Planet Writer

Getting down and dirty in South Korea: pop singer Psy kicks off Boryeong Mud Festival

The annual Boryeong Mud Festival got underway in South Korea over the weekend with a programme of music and muddy antics. Headlining the festival on Saturday was K-Pop star Psy, whose hit ‘Gangnam Style’ reverberated around the world in December 2012 when it became the first video on YouTube to reach one billion hits.

People enjoy the moment during the Boryeong Mud Festival in Daecheon Beach on July 16, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea
People enjoy the moment during the Boryeong Mud Festival in Daecheon Beach on July 16, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea Image by Kim Jong Hyun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Boryeong Mud Festival takes place every year at Daecheon Beach  in Chungcheongnam-do, one of the only sand beaches on South Korea’s west coast. It has often been listed as one of the world’s quirkiest festivals for its lineup of mud-infused attractions, ranging from mud slides to pools, pits and mud-spraying grottoes. A large beachside stage sees K-Pop acts performing into the night most evenings of the festival, as well.

Festival-goers enjoy the mud during the annual Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach on July 16, 2016 in Boryeong, South Korea. The mud, which is believed to have benefical effects on the skin due to its mineral content, is sourced from mud flats near Boryeong and transported to the beach by truck.
Festival-goers enjoy the mud during the annual Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach on July 16, 2016 in Boryeong, South Korea. The mud, which is believed to have beneficial effects on the skin due to its mineral content, is sourced from mud flats near Boryeong and transported to the beach by truck. Image by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The festival started in 1997 as a way to attract attention to the health benefits of the local mud. The Boryeong Mud Skincare Center continues this legacy, although most visitors now mainly come to get down and dirty in the mud pits. Over the course of ten days, the festival sees around three million people and, according to the festival’s official website, it attracts the most foreign visitors of any event of its kind in South Korea.