The Korea Herald

ssg
피터빈트

World-famous ice fishing festival to kick off in Hwacheon on Saturday

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 4, 2024 - 20:21

    • Link copied

Ahead of an annual world-renowned ice fishing festival in Hwacheon, Gangwon Province, beginning over the weekend, installation of facilities is finalized at Hwacheon Stream on Thursday. (Yonhap) Ahead of an annual world-renowned ice fishing festival in Hwacheon, Gangwon Province, beginning over the weekend, installation of facilities is finalized at Hwacheon Stream on Thursday. (Yonhap)

A world-renowned annual ice fishing festival is to kick off in Hwacheon, a remote mountain town in the northeastern province of Gangwon, on Saturday, organizers said.

The 2024 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival will continue for 23 days through Jan. 28 in Hwacheon, located just 25 kilometers south of the inter-Korean border and about 90 km northeast of Seoul, the organizers said Thursday. Sancheoneo is a species of trout known to live only in very clean fresh water.

This year's festival is expected to attract more than 1 million visitors, turning Hwacheon with a population of just 24,000 into a global wintertime festival city.

Organizers said they plan to release 160 tons of sancheoneo into the frozen river covering 61,654 square meters during this year's festival. They will also operate foreigner-only fishing and resting areas, expecting about 100,000 foreign tourists this year.

Launched in 2003, the event was chosen as the nation's best festival by the culture ministry in 2010 and had drawn more than 1 million visitors for 13 straight years from 2006 to 2019. The inaugural 2003 event drew a crowd of 220,000 visitors.

The annual winter festival has previously made headlines worldwide, with thousands of tourists trying to catch sancheoneo through holes cut into the surface of a vast frozen river and taking part in bare-hand fishing, sledding, ice soccer and other events. In 2011, a leading global news organization introduced the festival as one of the world's seven wonders of winter.

Last year's festival, held after a two-year COVID-19-related pause, drew 1.31 million visitors.

As a fierce battlefield during the 1950-53 Korean War, Hwacheon is also considered a symbol of national security and peace.

County officials say the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival has now grown into a strong backbone of the county's economy, generating direct economic effects of over 100 billion won ($76.5 million) annually. Local restaurants, hotels and makers of various facilities and souvenirs are also its beneficiaries. (Yonhap)