Last Saturday, October 3rd, was the Annual International Fireworks Display held in Yeouido on the Han River. It’s been held every autumn since 2000, and as always there were huge crowds that came to see the displays. This year there were three teams: The Philippines, The USA, and Korea. It’s pretty manic out there so I don’t venture down to the river bank but I did manage to get some pictures from a nearby window. There are also several events on the river leading up to the main fireworks performance so we popped out to take a look at the night bazaar.
The event is sponsored by the Hanhwa Group. According to their website, the theme of the 2015 Seoul International Fireworks Festival is “the magical fireworks village, where you can find the fireworks in you.” OK. Anyway, for a few days leading up to the main show there are warm up events on the river to get people in the mood.
There’s music and lights and a rather hectic night bazaar with stalls selling trinkets and food vans selling anything from yakitori to waffles.
Some of the food stalls are particular popular but visitors don’t seem put off by having to wait in long lines…
Then on Saturday morning, the riverside starts getting packed with tents as people bagsy their plots of ground where they can view the display. It takes dedication to get a really good spot! 😉 Unfortunately, the area right in front of the show is a restricted area for ‘gold ticket holders only’. I don’t know how one would get a gold ticket though.
It is a spectacular event. 80 minutes of nonstop action. 100,000 fireworks are set off. It’s the most expensive and extravagant fireworks display of the year in the country with a varied soundtrack of classical and modern music.
An article in the Joongang Ilbo (Korean) reported this morning on the chaos around the banks of the Han River as thousands of people tried to get a good view. Every year it’s the same – (here’s an article reporting the exact same problem last year!) people are told not to come by car and that the bridge will be restricted on the day so people should use public transport, but still lots of people come by car. They really, REALLY want to see the show!
There was a bit of argy-bargy too as angry pedestrians argued with police when they were stopped from walking up onto the bridge whilst others in cars managed to drive onto the bridge, park illegally and get a great view. (Yes, that would annoy me, too 😕 ) But here are some heart-shaped fireworks to cheer us up…
Every year the police threaten to tow illegally parked cars away but since they don’t carry out the threats nobody listens and the same problem occurs every year! The roads with 4 lanes of traffic are reduced to 2 lanes as cars park along the outside lanes and hard shoulder! I don’t want to be a traffic policeman today.
The apartments around the river get bombarded with visitors too. The local apartments have to block off their car parks with tape and spare pieces of furniture! And visitors try to find a spot on the top floors of any nearby buildings. I don’t want to be a security guard at one of these apartments today! 😕
After the 80 minute show there’s a mass exodus towards the nearby stations.
But it isn’t all fun. For as we enjoy the evening we are not aware that a man in his 40s, has lost his life when he fell into the river the day before the event. He was working on the preparations and was moving laser equipment from a boat. He fell into the river and drowned – he wasn’t wearing a lifejacket. His body was recovered yesterday morning – the day after the fireworks display. Also, during the event, 7 people were taken to hospital and 59 people were treated with first aid at the riverside.