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Hwacheon Mountain Trout Ice Festival opens Jan. 4'One of Seven Wonders of Winter' for a 22-day run

'One of Seven Wonders of Winter' for a 22-day run

Hwacheon Mountain Trout

Ice Festival opens Jan. 4

▲1.4 million persons reportedly visited Hwacheon Mountain Trout Festival last year having their fill of the joys of the winter--ice-fishing mountain trouts and treating their eyes to the colorful lanterns of the angels at the Seondeung Candle Light Festival that takes place in the night.

Named one of the 'even Wonders of Winter' by CNN and Lonely Planet, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo (Mountain Trout) Ice Festival is probably the most famous winter event in Korea. During the month of January every year, more than 1,000,000 people swarm Hwacheon in Gangwon province hoping to catch mountain trout bare-hand or ice fishing.

Nestled between the town of Hwacheon and the mountains, the Hwacheon River is not only covered by a thick layer of ice, but also by thousands of festival participants.

▲Who said Hwacheon offers only ice-fishing? You can land mountain trouts also from the water standing on the river bank (top left). Koreans, expats, young and old, all enjoy various events of the Festival.

The Hwacheon Mountain Trout Ice Festival will be taking place in Hwacheon County in Gangwon-do province on Jan. 4-26, 2014. This virtually untouched region is known as the first area in Korea that freezes over in winter, and the river is covered with a thick layer of ice.

Visitors can try out ice fishing, and those who are feeling brave can try to catch mountain trout with their bare hands. Along with fun activities and performances, there is also an exhibition of ice sculptures that usually take 20 weeks to prepare. Visitors can sample raw and grilled mountain trout, both of which are delicious.

A foreign visitor said: “Unlike some Korean festivals I have been to, there is a lot to do at this festival. You can ride an ATV or go kart on the ice, go sledding, ice skating, push a metal cart on the ice, or do some regular reel fishing.”

The events that are most popular are ice fishing and bare-handed fishing. For the ice fishing, you are provided with a hole in the ice and a bag for putting your catch for 10,000 won of which you get 10,000-won Love Gift, money you can spend around the festival grounds on food and souvenirs. “If you aren’t Korean, make sure to head to the foreigner only section. It is not only less crowded, but there is English-speaking help and you are given a free fishing pole,” said the foreign visitor.

When you get on the ice, pick a hole, let out enough line to get your lure to the bottom of the river. Then, quickly flick your wrist upwards and let it float back to the bottom. Some persistence is required, he stressed.

Hwacheon is considered a “clean region” where mountain trouts and otters live. Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is opened in every January under the slogan of “Unfrozen Hearts, Unforgettable Memories” at Hwacheon that has geographical features of the fastest ice freezing in the country because of cold valley wind and clean water.

▲Left: Visitors pass through the colorfully lit ice tunnel. Right: You can also enjoy a 'sky ride' down the river.

This is a unique theme experience festival full with good shows and 40 or about various experience programs, such as ice sledding, snow sledding, snow sculpture and ice soccer, Sancheoneo experience programs combined with the image of Hwacheon that has clean natural environment with the first grade clean water in Bukhangang (river) for catching Sancheoneo by hand, Sancheoneo fishing on the ice to catch the fish easily and enjoy the fishing by everybody, breaking the ice with 40cm thickness and above and looking at Sancheoneo in the deep water for your exciting play available for experiencing at Hwacheon only and heart-warm memory in winter.

Winter Sancheoneo! Sancheoneo Fishing! To mention about ice fishing, you need to catch at least one Sancheoneo. It is an elegant fish underneath ice out of comparison to the other fishes due to moderate size and beautiful shape.

Sancheoneo is hard to catch as it is rare but everyone can catch one or two Sancheoneo at Hwacheon with somewhat good luck and knack since 32 or 3 tons of fresh Sancheoneo are being put just under the fishing place every day for visitors for Sancheoneo festival. It is just the reason why a child or young girl without fishing experience is indulged in Sancheoneo ice fishing. k

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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