How to get from Seoul to Jinju Lantern Festival?
September 29, 2016 2:36 AM   Subscribe

We'll be visiting Seoul next week, and are keen to get out to the Jinju Lantern festival as it looks amazing. Getting there, however, seems like a royal PITA, with googlemaps telling me 5 hours minumum each way, trains and busses. We can't speak Korean past a few words and don't read Hangol. Do you think this is doable for two tourists with limited to nonexistent language skills, or too much?

Extra info: The web page for the event doesn't detail how to buy tickets - would we just wing it and pay when we get there or is that a good way to waste a 10 hour round trip?
Anyone have any experience/advice?
posted by everydayanewday to Travel & Transportation around Seoul, South Korea (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't been to this festival but I have been to Korea a few times and have friends who live there.

The Korean National Tourism site has info on this festival here.

Google Maps tells me that Jinju is about 4.5 hours from Seoul station via KTX, Korea's high-speed train system, and normal train, with a change at Daegu East/Dongdaegu station. This will be the most comfortable way to travel and the short change in Daegu will be painless - all railway stations in Korea are labelled in Korean and English, as well as Chinese and Japanese most of the time. Many Koreans speak excellent English, especially younger people. Korail website:

The bus, from Seoul Nanbu Terminal, is a bit under 4 hours each way. This seems like more of a mission and probably less comfortable, and also probably less English-friendly.

Flying is also possible, though very expensive compared to the train and not much faster - Seoul's city-centre Gimpo Airport is on the Seoul Metro, very small and convenient. It's just 55 minutes by air to Jinju/Sacheon Airport and you could easily make the flight showing up at the airport 90 minutes in advance. Korean Air and Asiana both do the route. The airport looks like it's about 10-15 miles out of town, a taxiable distance (and Google suggests there's a bus, but the info is in Korean).

As far as the festival itself, the 10,000 won for an adult ticket translates to about 9 USD, so I bet almost everyone will pay on the day; it may be more of an "admission fee" than a ticket as such.

If you wanted to stay over in Jinju that evening you could - there's a castle and a national museum - but perhaps you'd want to head an hour or two east to Busan and spend the day there the next day before heading back to Seoul on the KTX?

Finally, there's a national tourist telephone helpline, 1330, available here.
posted by mdonley at 3:21 AM on September 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh, forgot to mention - October is the Korea Grand Sale, when the country discounts loads of things for tourists, from food to hotels to flights to portable wifi-egg thingies. Have a look at their site and see if there are any coupons you can print out/book in advance.
posted by mdonley at 3:28 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My girlfriend and I were in Seoul last November. We didn't leave the city, so my experience is limited, but not speaking or reading Korean was not a problem. Sure, it would have been helpful, but there are English signs everywhere. We took the Seoul subway extensively and only got a little lost. There are lots of people who don't speak English, but many, many do, and the folks in Seoul were happy to point and gesture and hold up fingers to make transactions.
There was a lantern festival in Seoul when we were there, and it was pretty great. I actually build parade floats with my friends here, so it was inspirational, too--these are big, big lanterns!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

1) There's a KTX line directly from Seoul to Jinju, without transfer!

Even better, the Jinju train station is a 5 minute walk from the Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal, which is also a 5 minute walk from the festival site.

Mdonley's advice above is otherwise good, but Google Maps can be strangely inaccurate in Korea - you won't have to transfer. You can check by looking it up on Korail's website, or by checking out Rome2Rio. Koreans generally use Daum or Naver maps

I can confirm that there will be ticket booths during the festival; the Korean website says that you can either buy online for 8,000 won or at booths for 10,000 won.
posted by suedehead at 1:03 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

FYI, I've heard sometimes folks mishear Jinju as Jeonju, a city on the western coast that's nowhere near where you want to be.

For your reference, Jinju is written: 진주

Jeonju, way off in the wrong direction, is: 전주

Good luck and have fun!
posted by charlemangy at 1:55 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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