Slipping, sliding, wrestling, showering, painting and getting pretty much plastered in mud has long been on my travel wish list. But I do not mean just any kind of mud, I mean Boryeong mud, Korea's mineral-rich west-coast mud, which contains germanium and bentonite, both of which are great for the skin.
Last month, I finally went to Boryeong on one of the hottest days of the year. The festival area is dwarfed by the wide, sandy and sea-shell filled Daechon Beach that stretches far into the distance; the scope to expand the festival looks unlimited.
The festival has reached something of a cult status among the expatriate community. Boryeong attracts a young, beautiful and generally well-toned audience, ready to dive headlong down a huge inflatable slide, have buckets of mud thrown over them within a make-shift prison and to be literally painted, from follicles to toes, using their bodies as mud canvases in the pursuit of total immersion.
Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has designated the festival as a special attraction, but the vast majority of festivals here are largely unknown beyond Korea’s borders, even though a few have the right ingredients to attract festival-goers from around the world.
In the U.K., the Glastonbury music festival for example draws in visitors from every corner of the globe, contributes more than 100 million pounds to the economy annually and is a celebration of the diversity of the U.K.'s live music industry.
The Boryeong Mud Festival has all the ingredients to be much better known, but it needs to be supported by greater government funding, celebrity endorsements and by organizers aligning themselves and collaborating with other major worldwide festivals.
The Boryeong Mud Festival has already forged links with "La Tomatina," the tomato-throwing festival in Spain. Maybe it is time to do the same with Glastonbury, which is after all famous for getting muddy when the weather turns bad, as it almost invariably does.
Already they have at least one aspect in common. Surely others could follow.
By Ramy Salameh, a PR manager with the Korea Tourism Organization in London