Parting of the Sea (Jindo, South Korea)

When I mention the parting of the sea, I’m sure your first thought is, didn’t Moses do that in the Bible? Well you would be correct, but in Jindo, South Korea, they have a Sea Parting Festival that is unrelated to the story that we know.

The Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival occurs once a year on Jindo Island when the sea parts due to the difference between high and low tide which reveals a path approximately 2.9 km long that leads into the sea and to Modo Island. This year (2017), the festival will occur from April 26 – 29; here is our account of how we joined the masses to participate in this rather unique experience.

Here is a view of the area where the path in the sea will appear.

When we heard about this festival, it sounded very different than most the other Korean festivals. There were a lot of different tour groups who were offering trips down to Jindo, and ultimately we selected the tour with WinK Travel (When in Korea Travel).  We opted for their tour because they said that they offered accommodations at a newer hostel and also because they offered a boat ride out of Modo Island, where you could walk from the small island back to Jindo (so you didn’t have to do both ways walking). The tour fees were very reasonable for transportation, food and 2 days and 1 night lodging (we did pay a little extra to get a private room).

So here is Scott after our 6 hour long bus ride down to Jindo.  He has his rubber boots on and is ready to go. The boots were able to be rented from WinK for 10,000 won (the fee was refundable once you returned the boots).  Scott has a size 13 foot and we didn’t think we would find anything to fit him, but luckily there was one size 290 that we were able to squeeze his foot into. I definitely would recommend these high boots, as the level of the water is unpredictable and no one likes water in their shoes.  You can also purchase your own rubber boots if you think you’ll be clamming or fly fishing anytime soon. 😉

Once we got off the bus we all used the restroom facilities and started walking to the meeting point.

Surprisingly, a few vendors were already set up and ready for the hordes of tourists at 6 AM.

We were all given tiki torches to help light the way.  I want to say that giving large groups of people sticks that have fire on them isn’t the best idea.  I saw a few people let their torches drop a bit low and almost light someone’s hair on fire.  BE VIGILANT!

Once everyone got their torches, we gathered around and watched the entertainment.

Then came the fireworks show!

Finally, we were ushered over to the spot, where the path would appear. Everyone was chomping at the bit to get started.

And we’re off!

People were just enjoying the walk and some people stopped to pick up some clams or abalone.

See how far the path stretches?

After we finished our walk, we headed up to our hostel that was on top of the hill.

This is a photo of our private room.  It was definitely Korean style, we were provided blankets and pillows and we slept on the floor.  It wasn’t that bad, but definitely don’t expect the Four Seasons if you head out to Jindo.

After we cleaned up and took a nap, we headed back out to the festival for lunch and to catch the boat over to Modo Island.

Meet the stars of the festival, Grandmother Ppong and a tiger. I should probably  explain why there is a granny and a tiger walking around, no this isn’t the Korean version of Little Red Riding Hood.

At this point you may be wondering why this is such a huge event, well the legend of the sea parting miracle goes like this:

In 1480, near the beginning of the Joson Dynasty, Son Dong-ji was condemned to exile on Jeju Island.  During his voyage to the Island, the ship was wrecked during a storm and Son drifted ashore at a place named Hoedong (or Tiger place) because of the many tigers in the area. Son and his descendants lived in Hoedong for over 200 years. Life was hard and villages were frequently attacked and killed by the tigers.  Finally, Son’s descendants took a raft and moved to the nearby island of Modo.  However, and elderly woman named Grandmother Ppong was accidentally left behind.  The old woman longed to be reunited with her family and prayed for help night after night to the Dragon King of the Sea.  Then, one night early in March, the Dragon King appeared to her in a dream and told her to cross the sea by walking on the rainbow that he would provide for her.  When she awoke she ran to the sea and once again prayed to the Dragon King.  Immediately, a rainbow shaped opening appeared in the water between Hoedong and Modo. Grandmother Ppong immediately started out over the rainbow path, but the exertion was too much for her and she collapsed. Her family, crossed the rainbow from the other side to find her and she died in their arms. It’s said her finally words were ” I am happy because the Dragon King has reunited me with my family.”

That is why the festival exists, in remembrance of the sea parting miracle and Grandmother Ppong.  Many people come to the area to pray for their children and the people they love and that their wishes will come true.

The festival area offers plenty of food vendors. The vendors range from Korean  to International style foods.

In addition to food, there are a lot of performances.  Here is a Native American group that was performing.

They were generating quite an interesting crowd.

Finally, you can’t go to Jindo and not visit some Jindo dogs.  The festival had a small section with Jindo puppies and adults for you to interact with.  Obviously these little guys were super pooped from their day.

I was super ecstatic, since our doggie daughter is a Jindo mix.  They are SOOOOOOOOO cute! I begged Scott to let me bring a puppy home (they were selling them for 100,000 won).

After we had walked around the festival for a while, it was time to board our boat to Modo Island.  While we were waiting to board, we saw this boat parade.

And here is the small boat we boarded.

When we got to the island, we walked around and looked at some of the people who live on the island.  It looks like for the most part, a lot of them are fishermen. We walked over to the area where they had set up some tents.  People were flying kites and there was a live performer singing some Korean songs.  A few people had set up tents for food and drinks.  We hung out for a little bit, but decided to head back to the main festival area as there was still many hours until the tide would be low enough to walk back.

Also going on at the same time as the Jindo Sea Parting Festival, is the Holi Hai (also known as the Festival of Colors) occurring in Busan.  Holi Hai celebrates the start of Spring.  It is basically like a Color Run on steroids and turned into a whole day event.  At the Jindo Festival, they had a small Holi Hai celebration.  The participants got white t-shirts and packets of colored powder.

They also had a live K-pop performance.

On the next day after we attended the festival we were taken to an area where they have many Jindo dog training centers.

Jindos are known for being highly intelligent as well as agile.

Here’s a video I put together of the tricks the dogs performed for us.

And here are the cute little puppies I snuggled with during the agility show. <3<3<3

The Jindo sea parting festival is not for the faint of heart. It is a long drive from Seoul, and the sea parting occurs super early, there are few accommodations (and be prepared to sleep on the floor). But it is definitely a cool experience and you also get to hug puppies, so in my book that’s always a winner!

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