Whale, Hello There: What to do at the Ulsan Whale Festival

Kelleena taking full advantage of the necessary Photo Zone.


Whale hunting used to be a way of life in Ulsan until international pressure caused it to cease. However, the city still embraces it’s history by hosting a Whale Festival every year.

There are many things to do and see at the festival.

Including….

Race Other Waygooks (foreigners) in Dragon Boats

Team ajumma (old lady) pants getting ready to board their dragon boat.

Be Interviewed for TV


There have been numerous occasions now where I have been interviewed for Korean TV. I think I am generally the “token foreigner” and just happen to be in the right place at the right time. My first time ever being interviewed in Korea was at Jinha beach while looking at the beautiful sand art. It was an awkward conversation but my newest experience definitely jumps to the #1 spot for awkwardness.

Of course, as soon as you do something laughable, such as don a ridiculous ajumma hat that only children are wearing, is when you get interviewed for Korean television.


As neither of our interviewers spoke English very well, our talk went something like this:

Woman: You……….festival………uhhhh……. (giggle) uuuhhh?

Me: (????) It’s a very fun festival and there are many things to do and see.

Woman: You……..Ulsan ……….uhhhh……….(giggle) uuuhhhh?

Me: (?????) I like Ulsan very much, it’s a lovely city to live in.

(Then there was an awkward two minutes where the five of us just stood there and smiled at each other until the cameraman decided that enough was enough and stuck the camera in each of our faces for a close up.)

Cameraman: You name?

We each said our name, and then bowed respectfully. The interview ended with us all laughing and smiling at the ridiculousness of our communication issues. 


Explore the Village

There are many things to see, do, and buy at the festival.

Who doesn’t want to get swallowed by a giant whale?

Or pop bubbles with the toddlers?

There are plenty of souvenirs to buy for those inclined towards whales and weaponry.

Playing with weapons is always fun!

Have some compassion child! I think spearing a bear when it’s already being roasted is a bit excessive, stuffed animal or not.

Alert! we actually found public trash receptacles (difficult feat in this country).



Show Off Your Craftiness



I quite enjoy pandering to my creative side, and there are several craft stations to visit. Yes, they are intended for the children, but as foreigners we basically count as children.

This station ran out of paper (that was the story anyway), so we couldn’t actually make the craft. The black stuff is actually “ink” from a sea creature (octopus, maybe).

While the octopus ink picture was out of the question, we were able to take part in the seashell whale craft. I think we might have made the day of the woman helping us. 

please note the ages of the children doing the craft with us.

We weren’t allowed to use the hot glue gun ourselves.

Looking good!
Finished!

Introducing my new friend, Whalebur.

side note: Whalebur lost his tail while being transported. Emergency glue gun surgery is required. Thankfully, Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world, so he should be ok. Don’t worry!

update: Whalebur is in good health and recovering from his wounds. His ego was only mildly damaged from this embarrassing ordeal.

Enjoy the Food

Food is a must at any and all festivals in Korea. Whether or not you choose to be adventurous with your choices is up to you. 

I particularly enjoyed a few (yes, multiple) visits to the food tent for some delicious pajeon 파전 and makkoli 막걸리.

If squid is your festival food of choice you are in luck!

Potato swirls on a stick (which I would eat if I ate potatoes).

Food tent: favorite place at the festival!
“Pajeon, anyone?”

The pajeon was so good we decided to go back for seconds. Actually, to be truthful, we went back for more makkoli and were given a service (free) pajeon as it was our 5th bottle.



Watch a Show

Those are some serious hair bows.
Something tells me he wasn’t too thrilled with the performances.

                             
Although I did get to hear the beautiful voices of the Bow Girls, the one thing I did miss was the whale performance. Thankfully, some of my fellow expats have captured it beautifully. I wish I had seen it!

I did catch some ladies from the performance walking to get a snack, but for great photos from the actual show please check out  The Open Road Before Me and Life Outside of Texas for great details and beautiful photos.



Check out more details (activities, timetables, etc..) at the Whale Festival website.

12 thoughts on “Whale, Hello There: What to do at the Ulsan Whale Festival

  1. Looks like you had a blast! Those shells are super cute. Now I wish I would have made one! Also, team ajumma pants is a great name! I love their dedication to costumes. And thanks for the link-back. I'm so glad you liked my post and you went to the festival and had a great time.

  2. Very entertaining post. The plight of poor Whalebur had me cracking up. Glad to hear he's on the mend.

    I wish I'd managed to catch the dragon boat races, your pictures make it look like a pretty fun time!

    Also, thanks for the shout out 😉

  3. I have only ever been to Ulsan once but your post makes me want to go there next year for this dragon boat race! My friends have participated in twice. Your pictures look like you had an awesome time

  4. This is so cool! There are so many amazing festivals out there, I wish I could go to at least a tenth of them! 🙂 Getting interviewed must have been super exciting – I would have been shocked but super entertained 😀

  5. Yes, it seems there is some kind of festival here every weekend. Some of them are quite strange. I wanted to go to the garlic festival, but was unable to fit it into my schedule. Oh well! The interview was super entertaining, especially now that I recently found out the man in the yellow jacket is a famous Korean reporter, crazy!

  6. I really have to make it to this festival! All of the wonderful blogs I've seen about it have been more than enough to convince me! Looks so fun. I loved the transcript of your interview, hilarious!! 😛

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