Korean lantern festival lights up Seoul
More than 2 million people from around the world have visited Korea's largest lantern festival. The 17-day event, which also celebrates the coming of winter, concluded on November 18. Shay Meinecke reports from Seoul.
Seoul's 10th annual lantern festival shines on
Under the theme of "Seoul Dream, Flowing Light," the South Korean capital's 10th annual lantern event celebrated the country's promising future and reminisced on its colorful traditions with striking displays that seemingly floated atop the capital's Cheonggyecheon stream.
Take a walk, enjoy the view
The full event covered more than 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles), and that's just one way. Guests were entertained with hundreds of thousands of lights illuminating Seoul's night sky and with Korean Kpop music playing softly throughout. There were also plenty of places to sit along the stream's embankment for anyone wanting to enjoy the view.
Guests welcomed by cute characters
Among the first displays are characters from Korea's National Sports Festival, which takes place each year in October. Considered to be the country's most important national competition, the event attracts around 20,000 Korean athletes in about 40 different sporting events. The event celebrates its 100th year in 2019.
North Seoul Tower
Originally located on Namsan Mountain in the city center, the observational North Seoul Tower stands at around 230 meters tall. Thankfully for the event, the display was shrunk so guests could enjoy the communication tower in all its glory.
Tall paper robots dominate the night
A favorite among Korean children was Robot Taekwon V, or Voltar the Invincible. The tallest lantern on display took several hours to complete, but surprisingly, it was made almost entirely from traditional Korean handmade paper called hanji, as was all of the lanterns on display.
Wishing upon a lantern
Guests could participate in a variety of programs, including crafting traditional floor lanterns and even making floating wish lanterns (also made from hanji). Participants launched the lanterns for good health, fame and even riches. But for many Korean families with children, good grades and a bright future were at the top of the list.
Tasty treats made by Korean street vendors
A variety of good food is an important part of any successful event. Thankfully for participants at the Lantern Festival, Korean street vendors provided a plethora of traditional snacks. Some must-try items included "tteokbokki" (spicy rice cakes), "twigim" (Korean-style tempura), and"odeng" (fish-cake skewers). For anyone wanting a sweet bite, colorful cotton candy was also on sale.
Lantern displays from around the world
Nearly 1 million tourists from around the world came to this year's lantern festival. The growing attention has generated interest from other countries to share their cultural highlights, which is why China displayed its monumental Tiananmen Square building.
Taiwan's big bird
Taiwan showed an elegant big bird at the event, and the Philippines featured a colorful Filipino tourism building.
The importance of sustainable restoration
The Cheonggyecheon stream has became a cultural focal point for Seoul. It has attracted millions of tourists and Koreans to the capital and has become a symbol for sustainability in the country. If not for its restoration in 2005, the Korean Lantern Festival and other events would not have been possible.