Jeongwol Daeboreum – more than just a dream.

In Korea, fears and anger are burned on the 15th day of the lunar calendar. But why is the New Year celebrated three times in Korea? Seongmin was there for you at the Jeongwol Daeboreum.

6 mins read

The 15th day of the lunar calendar is a special day for Koreans. This day, called Jeongwol Daeboreum, is the first full moon day since the Korean New Year (Seollal) and is called Sangwon or Ogiil. Korean ancestors considered this day to be more special than Seollal, and the Jeongwol Daeboreum festival is held for 15 days from the beginning of the lunar calendar. It is said that the second day of the fifteenth lunar month of January was considered the actual beginning of the year. Therefore, one could celebrate the New Year three times in Korea. On January 1, January 22, 2023 (Seollal), or February 5, 2023 (Jeongwol Daeboreum).

On the fifteenth of January, people eat burum (nuts), five-grain rice, yakbap (rice cake), gwi balgi sool (early morning drinking on the fifteenth of January), side dishes such as seaweed and chwinamul (wild ester), and seasonal fish to celebrate and make a wish for the New Year. It is also traditional to play various games and events such as “Go-Ssaum” (traditional show) and Seok-jeon (stone throwing game). There are also places where rituals are held by region and village, and on the fifteenth of lunar January, they made plans for the year or predicted the year’s fortune.

After a long break, it’s finally time again.   |   Photographer Seong min Yun

On Sunday, February 5, 2023, and January 15 of the lunar calendar, we celebrated Daeboreum again. Being a major national holiday, each region held various events, but the event was not held for four years after the COVID-19 outbreak. This year, the COVID-19 epidemic has subsided, and events have been held again in various parts of Korea. I live in Busan and go to an event at Sasang Samrak Park.

Shortly before sunset.  | Photographer Seong min Yun

An orange sunset falls in the sky in the early evening hours. The weather has become much warmer, but the cold air of winter still lingers. I dressed warmly and went to the venue with my family. The place is crowded with people who have come to the festival for years. As I was pushing my way through the crowd, I could see a pile of tall trees. For a long time, Korean ancestors have piled up straw mats and pine branches to celebrate the fifteenth of the lunar month of January. This is called ” Dal-jib” (moon house), and this pile of trees is burned to pray for a good harvest and good luck. This is called “Dal-jib Taewoogi” (Burning of the Moon House). People believed that the better the dal-jib burning, the more peaceful times would be, and the year would promise a good harvest.

People gather around the tree pile and wait anxiously…| Photographer Seong min Yun

The pine branches are still green, surrounded by flags. The song of the pungmulpae (Korean traditional music band) floating among the people and beating the instruments is exciting. People facing one another for a long while are looking at the stack of trees with loving and expectant looks. The day was coming to an end and black smoke was rising in the sky. Looking around, we see those in love with their arms crossed watching the rising full moon, those with their eyes closed wishing for something. The child on his father’s shoulder looks with his eyes wide open. I haven’t thought about what to wish for yet, but I hurry to think of this year’s wishes.

At 5:50 p.m., Dal-jib begins to catch fire to the cheers of the enthusiastic people. FWOOSH- FWOOSH- Dry branches burn so easily. A bright yellow flame rises, biting the trees and straw mats. Smoke spreads across the sky, and people watch the scene as if possessed by a mysterious mood. A round moon shines above. In the middle of the dark sky, I felt as if someone had turned on a large torch.

…until it is lit shortly before six o’clock in the evening. | Photographer Seong min Yun

Some people throw their underwear into the flames. This is because of the superstition that burning old underwear also burns away worries and troubles. Looking at the burning trees and rising flames, I whisper in my mind health and happiness for all of us. Though the last few years have been difficult because of Corona, we have persevered. Perhaps because of this, the faces of the people looking at Dal-jib reflect the determination and maturity of life. Our lives would face many questions and difficulties tomorrow, but that’s okay. As always, we’ll live well enough. All the fear and anger are burned here and now. With everyone’s wishes in mind, FWOOSH- FWOOSH-

I feel a little lighter. I feel like I can do anything tomorrow.

Seong min Yun

BUSAN | Korea

Seong min, a.k.a Jima, is a Korean University student. He is curious and kind to anyone. He loves to learn foreign languages, and he can speak 4 languages: English, Japanese, French, and of course Kor. Jima is also a painter and writer. He paints about love and flowers and writes stories of life. Jima wants to create a world more colorful. With him, you shall learn how to look at the world a little bit differently.

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