By Kim Tae-jong
The southwestern city of Chonju (Jeonju) will be in a festive mode this month as it hosts a series of film, musical, cuisine and cultural festivals beginning Thursday.
In the past, the city held all four major festivals together in April and May but beginning this year, they will be held separately.
"When we hosted them together, it was hard to see their separate identities", Song Ha-jin, mayor of Chonju, told The Korea Times in a written interview. "To develop them as regional, national and international festivals, it is necessary to hold them separately and let them fully show off their charms".
The four major festivals are the international film festival from today to May 4; the mulberry paper culture festival from May 3 to 6; the Taesasup Festival from May 14 to 15; and a cultural festival from June 16 to 19. Cuisine festivals are scheduled for fall.
Song also believes holding the festivals separately will attract more visitors.
"All the successful festivals are only possible through the active participation of festival-goers. Without them, there would be no festival. It's not something that the government can do", he said.
The first in the city's festival lineup, the eighth film festival will show a total of 185 innovative and experimental movies from 37 countries.
Tonight's opening ceremonies will be held at 7 p.m. at the Sori Arts Center with the participation of some 2,000 people as well as 50 local and international celebrities walking on a red carpet.
It opens with the local film "Off Road"
by director Han Seung-ryong
and closes with the Hong Kong film "Exiled" by director Johnnie To. Most screenings and street events will take place at the Cinema District in Open the link
. (For more information, call (063) 288-5433 or visit www.jiff.or.kr.)
Song shows particular interest in promoting the traditional culture that the city has long preserved, planning to brand and market them home and abroad, which helps boost the regional economy.
Korean mulberry paper (Hanji), is one of the most important heritages the city boasts as it originates from the city. It has historical and artistic value as it led to great developments in the country's Oriental painting and calligraphy.
The 11th mulberry cultural festival, which takes place from May 3 to 6 in the Core Outlet and the Hanok Folk Village in the central Pungnam-dong, will focus on the beauty of the unique traditional paper and its modern usages. (For more information, call (063) 271-2503 or visit Open the link
"The traditional paper festival will be more like an exposition. We want to promote the mulberry paper business", the mayor said.
Other major festivals _ the Taesasup and the Pungnam Cultural Festivals _ will remind visitors to enjoy tradition through cultural performances, a sampling of local dishes and various traditional games.
The origin of the Taesasup Festival dates back to the Choson Kingdom when King Sukjong started to hold competitions for various skills including archery, essay writing, songs and warlike arts. Forgotten during Japanese colonial rule, the festival was revived in 1974. It has since become a vital event in discovering promising talent in traditional arts categories including dancing, singing, writing and archery. For more information, call (063) 278-8333 or visit Open the link
The Pungnam Cultural Festival originated from Tano Day, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month as the oldest of Korean holidays and marks the beginning of summer.
The festival had been held on May 1 on the solar calendar since 2000, which caused it to lose its original meaning. But this year, the festival starts on Tano Day. (For more information, call (063) 252-9488 or visit Open the link
The mayor also plans to promote its culinary culture including famous dishes such as pibimbab, or mixed rice with vegetables, and traditions under the brand of Chonju.