All you need to know about the Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival: Tips and Full Guide

Hope Jinju with Peace and Fortune:
"The River of History, Holds Peace"

History lights up the night in the heart of Jinju, South Korea. The Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival lights up the October nights, creating a spectacle of peace and beauty. This celebration has its origins in a dramatic moment of history—the Battle of Jinju in 1592. 

During this clash, General Kim Si-min, with just 3,800 troops, faced off against a massive Japanese force by cleverly using lanterns to light up the night and protect the city. These lanterns weren’t just tools of war; they symbolized hope and resilience, guiding separated families through dark times.

A Glimpse into History: The Battle of Jinju (진주대첩)

The Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival traces its roots back to the pivotal Battle of Jinju, known as “진주대첩” in Korean. 

Rewind to 1592, during the Imjin War, when Jinju faced an overwhelming siege by a 20,000-strong Japanese army. However, it was the brilliant military strategy of General Kim Si-min, often hailed as Chungmugong (충무공), that led to a remarkable turning point in this conflict. With a mere 3,800 troops under his command, General Kim deployed a unique tactical maneuver, using lanterns, or “pundeung” (풍등) to be exact, to illuminate the night sky.


These lanterns, adorned with flickering flames, were launched into the heavens, casting an ethereal glow. Alongside torches, they were used to obstruct the path of the invading Japanese forces as they attempted to cross the Namgang River. 

This ingenious military strategy not only thwarted the enemy’s advance but also served as a means of communication between families separated by the chaos of war. The lanterns became symbols of hope, conveying messages of safety and well-being in a time of turmoil.

The Continuation of Tradition: Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival

From that pivotal moment in history, the tradition of the Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival was born. Today, this enchanting event stands as a vibrant testament to the enduring spirit of the Korean people and their determination to preserve their heritage.

Each year, usually in October, the city of Jinju transforms into a mesmerizing wonderland of lanterns. The festival showcases a kaleidoscope of lantern designs, ranging from traditional Korean symbols to intricate animal figures and other creative masterpieces. The riverside is aglow with thousands of lanterns, casting their luminous reflections upon the tranquil waters of the Namgang River.

A Festival That's More Than Just Lanterns

Visitors to the Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival are treated to a sensory feast of cultural performances, parades, and awe-inspiring firework displays that light up the night sky. The festival provides a unique opportunity for locals and tourists alike to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Korean culture.

What to Expect

Traditional Ritual: The First Lightning Show

It is the first event to light all the lanterns displayed at the Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival and mark the beginning of the festival. The ritual is held to commemorate the 70,000 martyrs who lost their lives during the Battle of Jinju.

Symbol Lantern Parade

Lanterns representing the local specialties and symbols of 30 Eups, Myeons, and Dongs in Jinu City are created, and a parade spanning 3 kilometers is held in celebration of Jinju Citizens’ Day. The parade travels from the Gyeongnam Culture & Art Center to the Lantern Exhibition Hall. 

Water Multimedia Fireworks Show

The festival orchestrates a fireworks display themed around water, fire, light, and hopes. This multimedia show combines lasers with water fireworks display at Chokseokru, Jinju Castle, to bring to life the meaning behind the slogan. 

* The Fireworks Show will take place on October 8th and October 22nd at 8:00PM

Aviation Media Art Drone Show

The captivating story performance involves over 300 drones performing a synchronized cluster fight. It delivers a message of dreams, hope, and the desire for peace to festival attendees and city residents through vibrant aerial displays and colorful lighting. 

* The Drone Show will take place on October 8th and October 22nd, just before the Fireworks Show.

Media Art Galaxy Show

As part of this year’s effort to enhance the festival experience, a large media art structure has been installed along the banks of the Namgang River in Sinan-dong, between Cheonsu Bridge and the second floating bridge. This addition provides another exciting attraction for festival-goers to enjoy during the night festival. 

Why the Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival Is a Must-See

The Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival is a journey back in time, a celebration of Korean spirit, and an art exhibit rolled into one. It’s a chance to see how a city can turn its history into a vibrant, living tradition that lights up the darkness. It’s a reminder of the power of unity and the enduring strength of hope.

So, if you find yourself in Korea this October, make your way to Jinju. Dive into the glow of the lanterns, and let the light guide you through a story centuries in the making. This isn’t just any festival—it’s a testament to the resilience and creativity of the human spirit. And who knows? You might just find your own story reflected in the flicker of a lantern’s flame.

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Event Details

When2023.10.08.(Sun) ~ 2023.10.22.(Sun)
Where626 Namgang Road, Jinju City, Gyeongsangnam-do
PriceAdmissions to the festival is free, but please note that there may be charges for select participation programs
InquiriesHomepage: Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival

Tel: (+82) 055-761-9111

Instagram: @yudeung_festival


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