The 10-day Boryeong Mud Festival, held every July, began in 1998 as a way of promoting the health benefits of the local mud, rich in germanium and other minerals. Now it attracts more than a million attendees, and has developed a reputation for the unabashed, alcohol-fuelled frolics of expats, Korean students and international travellers. Daecheon Beach is the principal venue.
After being baptised in a vat of the oozing grey stuff, participants can enter the ‘mud prison’ and get doused with buckets of warmed mud. There’s a mud super-slide, a mud rain tunnel and a number of muddy pools where groups run, splash and generally get covered in mud. The festival grounds are just above the beach, where every evening there’s a concert or rave and it's easy to zip out to the ocean for a quick swim or de-mudding. The festival is bookended by parades and fireworks.
Many English-speaking volunteers are on hand and there are free lockers, a campsite and basic clean-up facilities, making this one of the most foreigner-friendly events in Korea. Accommodation is booked up months in advance, even in Boryeong, so many come for the day or on tours.