It’s that time of year in Korea: Election Day! June 2nd is Election Day for many local offices around Korea. If you’ve been around Gwangju lately, you’ve probably noticed all the huge yellow banners advertising the candidates running (for the first time or for re-election) for their prospective offices. And just like elections at home, candidates find any outlet they can for publicizing themselves. One way that the candidates do this is by attending the local festivals happening in their area of influence. Spring is a great time for festivals—and a great time for campaigners. Unfortunately for the general public, the political aspirations of some candidates have influenced these festivals in inconvenient ways.
Some festivals have been pushed earlier than their usual times to accommodate the campaign schedule and the end of the terms of currently-elected officials. As a result, festivals that are dependent on Mother Nature and weather conditions to achieve its full splendor (like flower or fruit festivals) suffer from not being spectacular enough. This article from the JoongAng Daily describes how festival-goers attending Daejeon’s May Snow Flower Festival were disappointed at the lack of flowers. The festival was pushed earlier this year to April 30 from its usual second week of May start. To try and counteract the lack of blooms, lights were strung in the trees to enhance their beauty. But festival-goers were not fooled, and some were pretty upset about it all.
Other festivals are suffering from a lack of interest, whether due to poor advertising, economic issues, or a dearth of other options for spring entertainment. As I’ve mentioned before, May is quite a busy time for festivals in Korea. I can honestly say that many festivals I haven’t yet checked out in Korea, but I do make an effort to check out new ones when I can.