Well, another gloriously sweaty Korean summer has come to an end, and the brisk breezes of October have announced the arrival of fall. Per usual, seasons in this country seem to change in the blink of an eye, so I have found myself scrambling with my wardrobe as I transition from shorts and T-shirts to jeans and jackets. Though I personally despise cold weather, checking out some festivals does take some of the sting out of that autumn chill. This weekend provided some excellent options, and I took full advantage of my cancelled Saturday class to check out the International Fireworks Festival in Seoul, as well as the International Food and Wine Festival here in Daejeon.
Call me Ban Ki Moon, since the amount of international flavor this weekend was off the charts. On Saturday, we made that all too familiar pilgrimage to Seoul to check out the finest fireworks South Korea has to offer. Calling this pyrotechnic display a festival is a bit generous, considering it is essentially just a huge mob of people gathering down by the Han River to watch some colorful explosions. But, nonetheless, it was definitely a unique experience to say the least. We hung out on a grassy hill on the riverbank to watch fireworks while sipping some fine Korean brews. The fireworks themselves were spectacular, with each “fireworks artist” adding their own unique signature to their particular fireworks set.
After my Seoul adventure, I made the arduous journey back to the friendly confines of Daejeon for the Food and Wine Festival, which never fails to disappoint. It is held at Expo Park across the river from the Government Complex subway station, and draws huge crowds every year. For yours truly, the biggest draw is the wine tasting room, where you can sample unlimited wine from across the world. I am by no means what you would call a wine connoisseur, but I can certainly appreciate a bottomless wine glass. Of course, the line for this particular attraction can be quite long, but I assure you that it is absolutely worth the wait. Please try to keep it classy, and resist the urge to just dump the entire contents of the first wine bottle you see into your glass.
While being able to try countless number of wines is quite enjoyable, I enjoy the food aspect just as much as the imbibing. There are dozens of food tents lined up and down Expo Park, offering a wide variety of foods. I went for the fish and chips, which was surprisingly good considering my typically mediocre experience with Korean attempts at foreign cuisine. The atmosphere outside was quite enjoyable, with thousands of people swarming around the various food stands, gobbling down food and chugging copious amounts of wine. I was fortunate enough to receive a complimentary glass of wine from a rather inebriated Korean man, who informed me that his wife thought I was handsome, which apparently earned me a free beverage.
I usually lament the arrival of fall as the death of the summer season, but a few of glasses of wine seemed to dull my pain somewhat. That is why the autumn festivals are such a crucial part of my yearly ritual, as they ease my transition into the doldrums of winter. Yeah, I know I am coming off as extremely negative right now, but I am just not a winter person. Bundle up folks!
Patrick Sheridan grew up in the quiet suburbs outside of Boston but always knew he wanted to explore the world. Studying abroad in Denmark while attending Elon University did not satisfy this desire, so after graduating in 2012 he decided to join Chungdahm Learning and teach English in South Korea. He loves wandering through the various neighborhoods of his city Daejeon, sampling random back-alley restaurants and attempting to communicate with the locals in his horribly broken Korean. He embraces everything Korean and looks forward to seeing everything South Korea has to offer.