The 2013 Seoul Lantern Festival is in full swing, literally the lanterns are swinging from the bridges and wires that cross the Cheonggyecheon stream. Every night from November 1 to November 17 lanterns under the theme of Hanseong Baekje, the Dream of One Thousand Years are lit up from 5 o’clock to 11 o’clock in the evening. The lanterns begin lighting up the night sky at the beginning of the stream, accessible via Jonggak Station exit 4 & 5, Gwanghwamun Station exit 5 or City Hall Station exit 4, and takes people on a comfortable 0.9 kilometer walk. Now in it’s fifth year, the festival takes visitors through four sections that highlight the 700 year history of the Baekje Kingdom.
Baekje was one of the three kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla. From the Cheonggyecheon Plaza to the Gwanggyo Bridge is the story of how Seoul became Baekje’s capital after King Onjo climbed to the summit of Mount Bukhansan and saw a colorful future ahead for his people there in 18BC. Thirty-one kings led Baekje Kingdom over 600 years.
From Gwanggyo Bridge to Jangtong Bridge relics and murals from the Ungjin Baekje period when the kingdom retreated due to Goguryeo threat and the capital was moved to Ungjin. This portion of the stream also shows relics and murals of the Sabi Baekje Period when King Seong moved the capital of the kingdom to Sabi to rebuild. The final section of the stream from Jangtong Bridge to Samilgyo is a display of lanterns provided by international participants under the heading of “Baekje’s Spirit of Harmony”.
Not only are there some lovely and colorful lanterns to be seen along the Cheonggycheon stream at the moment but there are also laser and light shows which go off every so often along the way and one of the bridges has been covered a colorful knit patchwork. It’s the place to head this week while the air is crisp and the nights come early.
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