The 2014 Mountain Trout Festival and Winter Ice-Snow Fantasia (one of the 'Seven Winter Wonders of the World') starts tomorow (Sat. Jan. 4, 2014) at the Hwacheon County of Gangwon Province some 79.3 miles northeast of Seoul.
So called by CNN and Lonely Planet, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo (Mountain Trout) Ice Festival this year is expected to draw an estimated 1.5 million Korean and internatioal visitors.
Recently designated by the Central Government bas the 'Best Festival of the Republic of Korea,' the Hwacheon Mountain Trout Festival offers visitors a rare chance of catching mountain trouts through ice holes and bare-hand.
This year, the organizers expected that the 'fishermen' from around the world, as well as from within Korea, will be able to catch many more trouts than in any previous year as the river is literally 'full of trouts.'
The organizers also have a special VIP package which offers the important Korean and international visitors with an opportunity to rice an 'Ice Breaker' steel boat from the town of Hwacheon to the famous Peace Dam cutting through the thick-frozen surface of the scenic Paroho Lake.
The VIP guests are also offered an opportunty to toll the Peace Bell of the World, shake hands with the Nobel Laurates (former President Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia, the late former President Kim Dae-jung, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala, Jose Ramos Horta of Indonesia, Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, Dalai Lama of Tibet, Elizateth Willians of the United Kingdom, Desmond Mpilo Tutu of Soouth Africa, and the noted figures of many other countries of the world), and a visit to the 'Water Museum of the Republic of Korea managed by K-Water.
They are also invited to toll the Peace Bell of the World which was made with the expended bullets and shells donated by many countries of the world where there have been conflicts as a token of expression of hopes for peace in the world.
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.
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.
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.