At the spectacular Jinju Namgang Yudeung (Lantern) Festival (Oct 1–13), colorful lanterns parade along the Namgang River waterfront across from Jinjuseong Fortress and Chokseongnu Pavilion. Visitors can enjoy a parade of traditional lanterns while floating lanterns downriver and hanging lanterns to make wishes. The festival dates back to the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–
1598), when lanterns were used as a military strategy to prevent Japanese troops from wading across the Namgang River. Also on offer are an exhibition of the world’s traditional lanterns and many more participatory cultural programs.
EAT> Have the yukhoe bibimbap (rice mixed with seasoned vegetables and raw beef) and bulgogi at Cheonhwang Sikdang (T. 055-741-2646), an institution that’s been around since 1927.
Located in the foothills of Mt. Jirisan, Cheonghakdong (technically in the neighboring city of Hadong but best approached from Jinju) is a village were many residents maintain the way of life of the Joseon Dynasty. In fact, electricity came to the village just 20 years ago.
Walk about Jinjuseong Fortress, the site of one of the most critical battles of the 16thcentury Imjin War.
Jinju has a good many inns and motels along the Namgang River.
KTX trains to Jinju depart from Seoul Station (travel time: 3 hr, 30 min).