By Editor Kim Hyung-dae
The 2020 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival will be held for 23 days from Jan. 4 to Jan. 26, 2020 in Hwacheon, Gangwon Province. According to Mayor Choi Moon-soon of the Hwacheon County, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, which has developed a new paradigm for the winter festivals, will welcome domestic and foreign tourists with new fun and excitement. At a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean news publications, Mayor Choi said, “We will introduce everything from the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, the only ‘global promotion festival’ selected by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism among winter festivals in Korea.”
Details of the interview follow:
“Hwacheon, Korea's No. 1 Winter Festival."
Hwacheon-gun, a super-mini local government in Korea's front-line region, presents a scene where more than 1 million tourists gather every winter. The crowd wants to enjoy the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, one of the world's four major winter festivals. The Ice Festival, which is held every January, has fully established itself as a brand symbolizing "Hwacheon, Korea's No. 1 winter festival."
Launched in 2003, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival was recognized for its potential after being selected as an up-and coming festival in 2007. Since 2010, it has won the title of the best festival for four consecutive years after being chosen as the excellent festival in 2008. And since 2014, it has won the title of "Korea's premier festival" for the fifth consecutive year. Of note, it began to be known internationally after CNN selected the festival as the Seven Wonders of the World Winter Season in 2011. Since then, foreigners have been also rushing to Hwacheon
The number of foreigners visiting the 2019 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, held early 2019, surpassed the all-time high of 130,000. The Sancheoneo Ice Festival, which has maintained its status as a premier festival for five consecutive years, has been selected as a "global promotion festival" from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism since 2019. It is the first record for a domestic winter festival.
Hwacheon has signed joint promotion agreements with major travel agencies in Southeast Asia and China, and has participated in multiple international tour fairs to attract foreign tourists.
The Slogan: "Unfrozen Hearts and Unforgettable Memories”
The 2020 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, the only thing that doesn't change is the slogan. The keyword that comes to mind at Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is “something new.” The only thing that hasn't changed in 17 years since the start of the festival is the slogan, "Unfrozen Hearts and Unforgettable Memories.”
The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, which had overcome the prejudice that it is a “monotonous” fishing event, is ready to attract tourists with nearly 60 kinds of contents that can be seen, enjoyed and tasted, including its main event, ice-fishing and bare-handed fishing.
Hwacheon-gun is also actively hosting events related to Santa Claus as it was recognized by the Finnish Post Office as the exclusive right to the “Santa post office” in Korea. When the festival kicks off, a portable Santa post office will be set up inside the Sancheoneo Ice Festival venue. Anyone can write a letter to Santa here, and purchase festival souvenirs. New experiences such as indoor bobsleigh, which has raised weight classes, will also be available at the 2020 festival.
Meet the “Queen of the Valley”
Among the festival's 60 programs, the main program is a sancheoneo fishing experience. The sancheoneo as big as one’s arm, which rises from under the ice over 20 centimeters thick, boasts a beautiful figure to match its nickname the "Queen of the Valley."
The sanchoneo bare-handed fishing, which can “beat out the cold with the cold” will also be available. Free admission for weekday, night, and weekend night ice fishing will be offered especially for tourists staying in Hwacheon.
If you failed to catch a sancheoneo during the day, you can aim for night fishing. Free access is also available if you stay in Hwacheon. If you're lucky enough to catch the biggest fish of the day in night fishing, you can even get a gold ring prize. Exclusive fishing and shelter will also be set up for foreign visitors totaling more than 100,000 every year.
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is More Fun to Know!
The festival features plenty of events, such as ice fishing, bare-handed fishing, and lure fishing, as well as world ice sled experience, bobsleigh, winter trekking, creative sled contest, angel day, ice country broadcasting station, and winter culture village. Detailed information, including location, can be easily found by referring to the festival information materials available at the festival venue.
A source of pride of the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is a gift certificate worth a certain amount of money that is returned when admission is paid. There are two gift certificates, one for farm products and the other for original Hwacheon products.
Gift certificates for agricultural products can be received on site/scheduled ice fishing and bare-handed fishing experience. Hwacheon Sarang gift certificates can be returned when using experience programs such as ice sledding, bobsleigh, sledding, winter trekking, and the world's largest indoor ice sculpture plaza. Gift certificates for agricultural products can be used at the farmers' special products sales centers set up at the festival venue.
Hwacheon Sarang gift certificates can be used like cash at restaurants, accommodations, convenience stores and gas stations across Hwacheon.
The Feast of Night
The 2020 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival will kick off officially on Jan. 4, 2020, but the festival season will start on Dec. 21, 2019 with a lightening ceremony for the Seondeung Street. The world's largest indoor ice sculpture square, which was created by some 30 engineers at the Harbin Ice Lantern Show, will also open on the same day. The 27,000-odd lanterns, which embrace the dreams of 27,000 Hwacheon residents, will brighten up Hwacheon's night until February 2020.
The Sancheoneo night fishing event will take place for two hours from 7 p.m. during the festival. Tourists staying in Hwacheon will be given free access to day and nighttime fishing and weekend night fishing.
The "Seondeung Street Event," which takes place every weekend during the festival, will turn the area around central Hwacheon-eup into a car-free street. During the period, The Seondeung Street will be changed into a mini concert hall full of musical concerts and performances.
Safety-Oriented Festival Programs
Although winter festivals across the country are suffering from global warming, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is markedly different. Thanks to the festival area’s topographical conditions, cold air freezes the venue next to a mountain valley. The combination of know-how accumulated over 10 years and precise flow rate control capabilities allows optimal freezing. During the festival duration, disaster relief teams dive every early morning to measure the thickness of ice, making every effort to keep the activities safe.
Using weather information, the know-how of Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is a model for other regional festivals. The foundation, "Nara," the operator of the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, received the bronze award at the 13th Korea Meteorological Industry Awards hosted by the Korea Meteorological Industry Technology Institute last year. It is also the first time for a festival-related institution to win a prize in South Korea.
"Ha-ha" for Tourists, "Ho-ho" for Local Residents
The direct economic ripple effect, which was estimated at 2.3 billion won in the first festival in 2003, has exceeded 100 billion won every year since 2018. The Rural Sarang gift certificates and Hwacheon Sarang gift certificates issued during the festival amount to nearly 2 billion won. The number of direct and indirect employment during the festival reaches about 3,000.
Hwacheon-gun, the nation's northernmost military city, is now appearing in textbooks as a success story of regional festivals through the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. While there are not many factories or companies in Hwacheon due to various regulations, the festival does a magnificent job of serving as a "chimney-free factory" to revitalize the local economy.
"The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is an event where you can not only feel emotion, fun, but also warm hearts," said Choi Moon-soon, governor of Hwacheon County, who is spearheading preparations for the annual winter festival. "We will make every effort to provide tourists with pleasant winter memories."