Cool evening winds started blowing after the last hues of the sunset faded. Lights that seemed to be more glaring than stars in the summer night sky started illuminating the earth. Children cheered and rushed forward. It signaled the start of the Chungju Light World festival – “the World of Lights” that opened at a 140,000 square-meter space within the World Martial Arts Park, east of Tangeumdae on riverside of the Nam Hangang River in April last year. This reporter visited the site on the first night of August.
After passing the main gate showcasing a wide variety of images including Seokgatap pagoda and Goryeo Celadon, this reporter entered the “France Zone” that illustrated the Eiffel Tower and the Street of Champs-Elysees. The eyes naturally moved to a giant cathedral-shaped sculpture. It is “luminarie” in the Italy Zone, the symbol of the Chungju Light World. This “Light of Cathedral,” which reminds the viewer of Gothic style, is 27 meters high and 100 meters long, and is decorated with about 300,000 LED lights, making it the largest of its kind in the world.
People in family groups, friends, and couples, who were chatting softly with each other, started scrambling to take photos. They looked busy taking photos to upload on social media channels or send to friends. Children were wowed as they were walking through the “Forest of Life” where a suspended bridge and a slide are installed between a giant tree-shaped structure and lights.
Finally, the loudspeaker announced the opening of a lighting show. People took their seats at spectators’ stand on a grass field plaza. At 8 p.m., the luminarie in the Italy Zone transformed into lights of beautiful colors to the tune of music, presenting a fantastic demonstration of lights and rhythms. Children jumped up and down to follow moving lights. When the show ended, a textual message was projected on the screen to invite people to request their favorite songs for the organizers to play. Couples hands in hands looked excited as if whispering “which song shall we request?”
Hot summer night seemed ever shorter on the night. The India Zone featuring the image of the Taj Mahal, and the Russia Zone exhibiting the Basilica Cathedral at the Red Square looked just as dazzling as the Italy Zone.
“We will hold ‘the Super Christmas Korea 2019,’ the largest Christmas feast in Asia, from November 29 to January next year,” said Lee Won-jin, head of the Chungju Light World. The event will exhibit Christmas decoration lightings presented by more than 5,000 teams to offer an exciting lighting extravaganza around the park. The event entails 300 million won (250,000 U.S. dollars) in total prize money at stake. “More than 1,000 teams including ethnic Koreans from overseas and North Korean defectors have already applied to take part,” Lee added.