Photo: Scene of ice fishing for mountain trout
When Hwacheoncheon Stream, located in Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do freezes in winter, locals and tourists alike flock to the stream, carve out a hole in the ice, and begin ice fishing for sancheoneo (Masou salmon). The trout are known to live only in high quality fresh waters. Visitors fishing in the stream can be seen patiently waiting, and then jumping with excitement as they pull their catches from the hole in the ice. Some even choose to jump into the icy waters of the pool built beside the stream wearing shorts and a tee-shirt for barehanded fishing. In addition to ice fishing, the festival offers a plethora of fun activities with the snow and ice. For that, Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival has become one of the ultimate winter activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Sancheoneo fishing is the main activity at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. There are three ways for visitors to fish at the festival: ice fishing on the frozen stream, lure fishing in the flowing waters, and bare-hand fishing in a pool. In addition, visitors can take the fish they have caught to be served fried or in raw slices for a fee in the food centers.
Photo: Visitor enjoying ice fishing (left) / Sancheoneo caught at the ice fishing site (right)
Fishing in Hwacheon Stream on ice that is at least 30cm thick is the most popular fishing activity at the festival. Wait patiently for the fish swimming underneath the frozen stream to be attracted to the bait by moving the reel up and down. When you feel a tug, calmly pull the fishing line up and place it in the plastic bag. Voila, you have your first catch! International visitors can enjoy fishing in an exclusive section of ice to increase the odds of catching fish.
Photo: Barehanded fishing arena
For those who do not fancy the motionless wait while ice fishing, you may want to challenge yourself with some barehanded ice fishing. Participants for the barehanded ice fishing change will be given festival tee-shirts and shorts to change into. After perform a simple warm-up exercise, participants jump into the pool at the word “Go!” and try to catch sancheoneo using their bare hands. Each participant is allowed to catch up to three fish. After the event is over, participants may thaw out their feet with a warm foot bath.
Photo: Visitors enjoying various ice activities
Snow and ice activities are other core part of Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. The ice sledding experience zone features traditional Korean sleds and sleds from around the world. A 40 meter-long snow slope and 100m ice slope are also available to send thrills down your spine through various winter leisure sports including snow sledding, bobsleighing with a special tube and ice soccer.
Photo: Snow Fortress (left) / Seondeung Street at night (right)
The excitement of Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival can also be felt throughout the town of Hwacheon. Participants may find sancheoneo-shaped lanterns made from hanji paper and beautiful luminaries of LED lights brilliantly decorating Seondeung Street. Furthermore, large-scale ice sculptures lit up in an assortment of colors are on display at the ice plaza. There are also other festivities to enjoy including traditional Korean folk games and a photo zone. Throughout the festival grounds and city, restaurants that serve raw and fried fish, as well as tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake), fish cakes, dumplings, and other sweet and savory fritters can be found.
Photos courtesy of Nara Foundation
* This column was last updated in December 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.