The Gaecheon Art Festival is the first festival of all local cultural festivals in Korea. It is held annually from October 3 to October 10, to commemorate the victory of Jinjuseong Battle (during the Imjinwaeran War, 1592) and hand down the spirit of Dangun, the legendary founder of the country.
This festival began in 1949 under the name of 'Yeongnam Art Festival' to commemorate the first anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan and to stimulate the development of Korean arts and culture. Since then, as the best art festival of the country, it has been held annually without fail except Korean War in 1950 and the military Coup on October 26, 1979.
The official name of this event changed from 'Yeongnam Art Festival' into 'Gaecheon Art Festival' in 1959. The celebration features various cultural and art events including 60 small events in 7 parts, such as Costume Parade, Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival, Jinju Bullfighting, Jinju Song Festival, and so on.
Jinju Nongae Festival is held annually in May. This festival aims to unify traditional arts of Jinju area such as 'Uiambyeolje', 'Jinju Mask Dance Hanmadang', and others. Also it is to commemorate the patriotic spirit of Nongae-a symbol of patriotism & integrity, and 70,000 soldiers died in the Jinjuseong Battle during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592. This festival is very famous for its unique and inimitable materials that represent cultural features of Jinju.
Nongae Festival is held in the spring being focused on the traditional arts, and Gaecheon Art Festival is held in the autumn being focused on the fine arts. These two festivals are expected to make Jinju be reborn as a city of festival being matched with its reputation, a true home of cultural and art festivals.
During the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, the General Gim, Si-min and 3,800 government troops flew pungdeungs(pungdeung : a lamp that was flown high with using the wind) and floated lamplights down the river with torches to signal the support forces, in the Jinjuseong Battle. Also, they used these lamps for a military purpose: to keep the Japanese invaders from crossing the river and to communicate with the soldiers' families who stayed outside the castle.
Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival (Yudeung: floating lamps down the river) was begun to commemorate the patriotic spirit of 70,000 militia corps and government troops who died for their country in the second Jinjuseong Battle(year of Gyesa, 1593) and to hand down the tradition of Yudeung. This festival had been held in Jinju for a long time, then in 1949, a present type of Yudeung festival was established and has been held annually since. In 2002, this festival was designated as the "specialized local festival" by the Ministry of Culture & Tourism to be run more fruitfully.
Jinju Bullfighting is the first Bullfighting of all Korean traditional bullfighting. It was originated from the Three Kingdom Period and has been maintained as its original form up to the present. This festival is held on a nationwide scale during the Gaecheon Art Festival, annually. Since 2001, the standing Bullfighting has been held every other week to attract tourist's interest.