By Nelson Groom
Getting covered in mud might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but this South Korean festival is all about getting down and dirty.
Boryeong Mud Festival, held 200km south of Seoul, involves millions of visitors taking the plunge with an array of mud attractions at the seafront setting.
Once a small gathering held to market the region’s mud-based cosmetics, the merriment in the muck has now grown into an international attraction annually.
Photographs from Daecheon Beach show thousands of punters wrestling, bathing and sliding through a mud wonderland under the baking sun.
Seoul photographer Simeone Jeong, 35, said: “It was very vibrant and energetic. What’s not to like?
“The crowd was a diverse mix of foreigners and Koreans. People definitely travelled from far and wide.
“Some of the cosmetic elements are still there, but this is more about a party. There’s definitely a lot of drinking going on.
“By the end of the day I was covered in mud, it’s impossible not to. I had to clean my camera a few times.”
Other attractions included mud bouncy castles, mud massages, mud obstacle runs, mud painting and mud pottery-making – as well as a rave on the beach.
The mineral-rich mud, used to manufacture cosmetics across the country, is driven from nearby wetlands for the messy beach bonanza.
The festival is not without controversy – in 2009, more than 200 schoolchildren suffered skin rashes after playing in mud.
This year, the 35-degree heatwave conditions meant few visitors would be able to resist using the grayish goo as a way to beat the heat.
Simeone said: “It fell right in the middle of a heatwave this year, it was crazy hot.
“The mud helps people cool down and protect them from some sunburn on their skin.”