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'Jindo Sea-Parting Festival' captivates nationals, expats

All Headlines 15:37 April 07, 2016

By Chung Joo-won

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- Every year, tens of thousands of tourists from home and abroad surge to a spring festival on Jindo Island, off South Korea's southwestern tip, to witness the natural marvel of parting seawater.

The tidal difference causes the seawater to split around this time of year, earning the phenomenon the title "a Korean version of Moses' miracle," according to the Jindo municipality, the organizer of the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival.

This year's event began Thursday with locals and tourists from all around the world crowding the wharfside to see the seawaters separate to bare a 2.8-kilometer-long, 40-meter-wide seabed.

The four-day festival offers a variety of cultural performances and specialties, including "ganggang sullae," or a South Korean group folk dance; "ssitgim gut," or a Korean shamanist rite to console the spirits; and "booknori," or a traditional percussion performance.

"Connect the hope ribbons," the highlight of the festival, will start at 5 p.m., to pay homage to the island's mythical figure Granny Ppong, who sacrificed herself to save the lives of her descendants. According to the Jindo myth, God parted the sea so that the dying old lady could meet her family who lived across the sea.

The event also throws a fire torch parade, global wrestling ssireum tournament and K-pop performances.

This year, the festival added a new tourist program called "Open Rainbow Road," in which participants throw dyed powder into the air while praying for the sea to part. More than 500 foreign visitors applied to take part in the program, according to the organizer.

For the past three years, the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival has been dubbed the best South Korean local festival, an honor presented by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism at the end of every year.

jwc@yna.co.kr
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