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Lantern festival gallery: 35,000 lights, millions of people
People queue for hours for a view of downtown Seoul's dazzling display
The 2012 Seoul Lantern Festival is Korea's largest yet, with approximately 35,000 colorful lanterns set up along Cheonggyecheon, the public stream park in downtown Seoul.
This year's lanterns are a tribute to "Seoul's Roots and the Daily Life of Our Ancestors," featuring traditional Korean customs, games and rituals, including depictions of women beating laundry by the river, men leading oxen and girls playing on traditional swings.
The festival has been massively popular thus far. As of Tuesday, 1.77 million visitors have been recorded. The event is expected to attract more than three million total visitors by the time it draws to a close on November 18.
"Perhaps it's because I went on the weekend, but I had to wait for 40 minutes and the entire tour took about two hours," says Ji-Eun Kim, 25, an office worker who visited the festival after work on Friday.
"Compared to last year's, it was a lot longer and much more impressive. But because it was so traditional in theme, the younger kids didn't seem to enjoy it as much."
The Seoul government upped the funding for the festival this year from ₩1.1 billion (US$1.01 million) to ₩1.6 billion (US$1.47 million). The festival also received additional sponsorship from Korea Exchange Bank.
Perhaps flashiest among the displays is the recreation of the Seoul Fortress Wall. Meant to draw attention to the city government's efforts to get the Wall recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's comprised of lanterns shaped like ramparts on which visitors are encouraged to write messages of hope (₩3,000) before adding them to the installation.
The festival is also exhibiting lanterns from Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and autonomous municipalities in Korea.
The giant random pineapple? That's Singapore's contribution.
Seoul Lantern Festival, Cheonggye Plaza to Seungyo Bridge; 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; until November 18; free admission; english.seoul.go.kr
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