07-17-2007 18:37
Getting Down ¡®n Dirty at Daecheon Beach

It's all about the mud: IFC guests join in the spirit of getting muddy along with thousands of other festival-goers at Daecheon Beach during the 10th Annual Boryeong Mud Festival.

By Brenda Koller
Contributing Editor

When you were growing up did your mother often say ``now don't get muddy¡¯¡¯? When we think of mud we usually think of it as something we loved as children but try to avoid as adults.

Saturday, diplomats and their families, foreign media and other invited guests of the International Friendship Club Korea (IFC) got a little muddy _ on purpose, that is.

Two IFC buses traveled from Seoul to Boryeong on Korea's west coast so guests could participate in the opening day of the 10th Annual Boryeong Mud Festival.

Judging from IFC guests' reactions and the celebratory mood in Boryeong city and Daecheon Beach, the festival lives up to its designation, appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as a ``Best Festival.''

Under bright sunny skies, IFC guests from about a dozen countries participated in the parade to kick-off the festival. Marching bands, samba dancers, clowns and mascot figures, young women sporting bikinis with mud encrusted skin and many others followed the parade route through downtown Boryeong city as thousands of cheering residents and visitors lined the route.

Back at Daecheon Beach, the excitement was astounding. If it's a quiet relaxing day on the beach you're after, this is not the place. Purportedly, Boryeong's population of 110,000 swells each day with the presence of 20,000 to 30,000 foreigners during the nine-day festival.

The main attraction _ mud, of course. Beachgoers literally paint (and sometimes pour) mud all over their bodies, which is not only a lot of fun, but contains minerals that make it healthy for your skin. And if you want to continue to pamper your body with the benefits of mud after the festival, you can purchase mud soap, shampoo and various other mud cosmetic products to take home.

The Boryeong Mud Festival organizers make great attempts to cater to foreigners with translator information (011-438-4865), free storage lockers, brochures in English and other conveniences. The festival offers a number of programs such as a mudslide, mud wrestling, fireworks and more.

Daecheon Beach offers 3.5 km of beautiful white sand. So after slopping mud all over your body you can wash it off in the ocean and take shade under pine trees that line the beach.

IFC guests agreed that this is one festival you don't want to miss. And you don't have to worry about what your mother thinks!

The Boryeong Mud Festival runs until July 22. For more information, visit www.mudfestival.or.kr.