Jindo Island, located on the southwest corner of the Korean peninsula, is well known for the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival. This is held when the East China Sea has such low tides that it exposes a 2.9-kilometer, narrow, land passageway to a small, nearby island.
Jindo Island is the third largest island in South Korea. It is located in South Jeolla Province and is separated from the mainland by the Myeongnyang Strait. Along with a group of other, smaller islands, including Modo Island, it forms the area known as Jindo County. Every year in the spring or summer, a narrow land passageway about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles) long and up to 40 meters wide opens up for about an hour on four consecutive days between Jindo Island and Modo Island. The sea-parting was made famous worldwide when, in 1975, Pierre Landy, former French Ambassador to South Korea, called it the “Korean version of Moses’ miracle” in a French newspaper when comparing it with the Biblical parting of the Red Sea.
This phenomenon may be called “Moses Miracle” by some Christians as it is liked the biblical story of Moses ‘s Red Sea parting, according to the Exodus account.
Koreans call this event as “Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival”. Visitors will enjoy walking along the sea bed and picking up the sea shells or sea creatures, so do not forget to bring basket to keep fresh seafood for your dinner. But mind you, the sea will be splitting only for one hour, so please don’t forget to rush back to the seashore on time. There is a statue of old woman and tiger near the cost of Jindo which can tell the story of the miracle in Korean version. According to the legend, tigers were once abundant on Jindo Island. Tigers were invading the villages, so people fled to Modo island, but one women, named Bbyong, was left behind. She prayed to Yongwang, the god of the ocean, until at last the god told her in the dream that there would be a rainbow appearing in the seas the day after for her family to cross the ocean. When she woke up and went out to the sea, the sea water miraculously parted, and the rainbow road appeared for her family crossed the sea to meet her, then began a popular tradition among locals and a mystical sea splitting attraction among tourists.
However, the sea parting is caused by the extreme low tide of the year which usually happened during March to June. This year the events was held during April 7-10, 2016. There are varieties of events during the festival; such as a folklore music concert, various street performances and artistic exhibition. At the festival, visitors can watch a dog show featuring the Korean Jindo Dog, a breed known to have originated from Jindo Island, and also famous known for their loyalty and obedience with performing impressive stunt during the show.
According to an old Korean tale, at the end of the 15th century (during the Joseon Dynasty) a man named Son Dong-ji was condemned to exile on Jeju Island, located a few hours south of the mainland. However, a strong storm shipwrecked Son during his journey through the Yellow Sea down Korea’s west coast, ensuring that he never made it to his final destination. He instead found himself washed ashore in the village of Hoedong (literally “tiger place”) on modern-day Jindo, so-named for the abundance of the ferocious striped beasts that allegedly once roamed the area.
There, Son and his descendants eked out a difficult living amongst the other villagers over the next 200 years. During this time, many fell prey to attacks by the big orange-and-black cats and were brutally killed. Finally, a decision was made for everyone to flee by raft to nearby Modo, where they would be able to live in peace. Unfortunately, an elderly woman named Grandma Bbong was accidentally left behind. She prayed every day to the Dragon King of the Sea, Yongwang, to deliver her safely to her family.
One night in early March the Dragon King appeared to her in a dream, and told her that the next day a rainbow would appear in the ocean to guide her across. She went to the shore the next afternoon and prayed to Yongwang once more. At that moment, the waters parted and a crescent-shaped path linking the two islands appeared. Grandma Bbong dashed across the opening but soon fell victim to exhaustion and the stress of her ordeal. Her family ran out to meet her and she died there in their arms, her final words spoken in praise of the Dragon King for helping to reunite her with her family one last time.
How to get to the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival
Jindo, South Korea’s third largest island, is in a fairly isolated location off the southwest corner of the peninsula in South Jeolla province. Four direct buses run daily from Seoul to Jindo, while two buses make the journey every day from the eastern port city of Busan. If you’re unable to find a direct bus, consider taking a bus to nearby Gwangju or Mokpo, from which you can catch one of dozens of daily connections the rest of the way. Once in Jindo town, you can take a taxi to the festival grounds, or board a Gagye-Hoedong (가계, 회동) or Songgun-Hoedong (송군, 회동) bus bound for Hoedong (회동). Several tour groups catering to foreign teachers and tourists also provide transportation to the site, including Pedro Kim’s “Lonely Korea” group based out of Gwangju. The date of the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival changes each year, depending on when the extreme low tides take place, so be sure to check online in the spring. Admission tickets are 7,000 Korean won (approximately $6.25 USD), of which 5,000 is returned as a coupon that patrons can use to purchase local products.