Since 1997, for 25 years, the ‘Jeju Field Fire Festival,’ Jeju’s largest tourist culture festival, has decided to abolish its core content, ‘Oreum Fire Lighting.’
This decision was made following Jeju City’s acceptance of a recommendation from a deliberative roundtable, which called for a fundamental shift focusing on values of ecology, environment, and local participation.
Last month, on the 11th, Mayor Kang Byung-sam of Jeju City held a briefing stating, “Reflecting the recommendations from the deliberative roundtable, we will prepare a festival in a new format that aligns with ecological values and expands citizen participation.”
He continued, “2024 will be a year of preparation for a sustainable festival by focusing on the development of new content instead of holding the Field Fire Festival.”
The festival has been criticized due to recurring wildfires and the impact of COVID-19, questioning the continuation of a festival style that contributes to carbon emissions and environmental degradation in the age of climate crisis.
As a result of the roundtable initiated by the Jeju Green Party’s policy development request, among 200 participating local residents, 50.8% voted to ‘keep’ and 41.2% voted to ‘abolish’ the festival.
However, in the question asking for alternatives, the responses were ▲Keep as is 30.5% ▲Preserve Saebyeol Oreum as is 20.3% ▲Do not light fire on Oreum 19.8% ▲Develop different festival 18.2%, in order.
When considering only the aspect of fire lighting, 58.3% showed the opinion that a festival should be created that preserves the Oreum without lighting fire, exceeding half of the responses.
Based on these results, the roundtable steering committee recommended pursuing fundamental changes focusing on the cultural values of Jeju region in terms of ecology, environment, and local participation. They also called for alternatives that could alleviate concerns of carbon emissions, wildfires, and damage to living organisms in the age of climate crisis.
Regarding the recommendation, Mayor Kang said, “After accepting the recommendation, I understood it as keeping the Field Fire Festival but without lighting fire,” and added, “We will reflect as much of the citizens’ opinions as possible, valuing the high worth of field fire that creates new life through destruction.”
Mayor Kang, regarding the recommendations of the committee, said, “After accepting the recommendations, we decided to keep the festival but without lighting the fire,” and added, “Reflecting the recommendations, from the next festival onwards, we will eliminate Oreum fire lighting which involves carbon emissions, wildfires, and concerns of damaging living organisms,” and “Transform it into a citizen-led festival where citizens participate from planning to operation, developing programs that align with ecological values. We will honor the high value of field fire, which creates new life through destruction, and will reflect as much of the citizens’ opinions as possible.”
Furthermore, “We will prepare programs that both citizens and tourists can enjoy by soliciting festival items, and improve the issues raised so far, presenting a new style of Jeju Field Fire Festival that can respond to the changes of the era from 2025,” said Mayor Kang.
He also added, “The Jeju Field Fire Festival, which has continued for 25 years as a representative festival of Jeju, is now at a crossroad of new changes. We ask for a lot of support and interest so that the festival can be reborn in a new style that aligns with ecological values and becomes a sustainable festival.”
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