One of Korea’s many odd festivities is the Parting of the Seas Festival that takes place every spring on Jindo Island. Once a year the tides go down so low that the seas “part” and Jindo Island connects with another island. While crossing the tidal flats probably wasn’t as dramatic as parting the Red Sea a la Moses, my trip to Jindo was entertaining nonetheless and gave me a chance to see a part of Korea I know I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
When we got to the Parting of the Seas Festival the sea was still a few hours from parting and we had just finished a grueling 6-hour bus ride on the world’s least comfortable bus in existence. To stretch our legs and revel in the joy that comes with having room to move again, we set out and explored all the booths and had a few drinks by the beach. From the beach we could see countless Koreans filling bags with seaweed. As someone who detests the taste of seaweed, these giant bags looked about as appetizing as the mud that was slowly emerging as the tide lowered.
When it was about time for the tide to reach its lowest point, we headed to the spot the path to the other island would soon emerge from. Before we could cross we had to put on thigh-high, neon orange rain boots as part of the crossing involved trudging through seaweed marshes. Once we had our new, ever-so-sexy footwear on, we pushed our way through the crowd and raced across to the other island before the tide came back in. As we got further out the ground became rockier and tide pools revealed starfish and octopuses that were bottom dwellers about a half hour prior to me seeing them.
In addition to seeing various forms of aquatic life slithering about the rocks and shells, I was also able to witness even more seaweed harvesters lining up the path from island to island. Many of them had sailed to a spot they knew the water would be completely receded from and waited for their boats to eventually be lowered to dry land where they could maximize their seaweed scavenging without having to push past the thousands of other festival goers. In the spirit of the festival, I took a piece of seaweed from the water but lost it somewhere in the crowd. Somehow, I think I might find a way to live.
The tide was only out for about an hour and a half so we were only at the festival for a few hours. Once we crossed back to Jindo Island, we had to get back on the Medieval torture device known as my bus back to Seoul. Despite the short duration of the actual Parting of the Seas, the festival was well worth the long bus ride. After all, any experience that involves a festival with a biblical name pun as a title is a-okay in my book.