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Seoul-South Korea-Who The F__K is Buddha?

Yesterday, I awoke after a good night sleep at the hostel for the last full day in Seoul. I had breakfast as usual, during which I was speaking to a woman who was checking out about what she did the day before. She mentioned she attended the Buddhist festival, which had bands and people dancing, and she said it was soooo much fun. I was indeed jealous, as I spent the evening trying (and failing) to hold on to my umbrella in the streets near the hostel.

The good news is (A) The weather cleared up, so it was no longer raining, and (B) the festival was continuing on for yesterday (Sunday), so I decided to to. The festival is actually called the Lotus Lantern Festival, and dates back 1000 years in Korea, and marks Buddha's coming into the world.

Going to the festival took a ride about 40 minutes on the metro to the largest Buddhist Temple in Seoul, called Jogyesa. The temple was adorned with lanterns and paper flags of many colors. In front was a street fair encompassing many blocks. I walked along the street fair, which included vendors selling food, primarily healthy and vegetarian. I ate some of their food. There we're also Buddhist tents from various countries, including Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. There we're tents for meditation and yoga, giving demonstrations. I was dragged into a yoga demonstration tent, and I was very stiff, for not doing yoga-plus since the instructor's commands we're in Korean, i couldn't understand them. She kept saying words like "Joshipoo", or something like that.


in between all the tents, was a large dance stage, where different Buddha traditions we're shown, including group dances, and acts with large strange-looking folks dressed as dogs.

I stayed there until roughly 3:00. Today was the last day in Seoul, and the place I wanted to go was the Seoul Wall, so I took the metro 3 stations and went to the Seoul Wall (sort of like a great wall of China but around Seoul). I walked maybe 1/2 a block up the wall, and took some pictures-so at least I saw it.

Then I went back to the festival-there was supposed to be a parade to conclude the festival, but first, around 6:00, there was a dance off between teams who looked about High-School age. They danced off to various hip-hop songs and other genres, including ones with lyrics that we're very non-Buddhist like, such as "Show me your fuckin pose", and a grunge version of "Living Next Door to Alice" (Who the fuck is Alice?"). Nobody else seemed to see the irony that these we're played at a Buddhist festival.

After what i think was 1/2 an hour-the parade started. Various teams of folks holding different types off lanterns (in different shapes, some shaped like hearts) did certain dance routines. Leading the parade was a giant dragon. The dragon would periodically move up and down. I followed the parade up the street. Huge crowds of seemingly hundreds, maybe thousands of people we're watching. I walked along side the parade as it made various turns throughout the city.

At the end of the parade was a huge stage, and large screens showing the stage was being filmed (Macy's Thanksgiving Day style). On the stage, the dancers did various acts.

After the acts, all of the dancers did a group dance together, and then the Master of Ceremonies asked everyone (including spectators), to get on the floor and form a conga line, and dance Korean party music, and fast paced dance music. The event turned into a dance party, with people of all ages participating, right on a corner of downtown Seoul.

After the party was over-I took the metro back to the area around the hostel, and ate various street foods for dinner.


Posted by DavidPearlman 16:18 Archived in South Korea

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