Held in its namesake town on the west coast of South Korea, about 120 miles from Seoul, the Boryeong Mud Festival was actually started as a marketing ploy. A Korean cosmetics company began using local mineral-rich mud for its products in the 1990s. The original aim of the event was to make people more aware of the health and beauty benefits that came from using organic ingredients like mud to make cosmetics. However, the messy celebrations quickly went beyond this original goal. The number of attendees in recent years has risen to around 2 million, and the festival is now spread out to cover a two-week period.
The highlights of the fest are the mud slides and mud pools that are located right on the beach. There is also a military-style training course (complete with a yelling drill sergeant) that allows participants to crawl through the mud during a variety of exercises. Colored muds are used for body painting. Since the festival takes place adjacent to the sea, washing off after a tumble down the mud slide or a trip to the mud pool is quite easy.