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STRANGE ICE FISHING TOURNAMENT IN S. KOREA - OVER A MILLION SHOW UP! - HOPE

Korea Attracts Millions of Tourists With ... Ice Fishing

The city of Hwacheon is tucked into the Taebaek Mountains, in the center of the Korean peninsula bordering North Korea. Hwacheon is home to some 36,000 soldiers and 24,000 residents, who, for years, made a living mostly by catering to the military. For years, the small town was known only to historians for the fierce battles fought there during the Korean War. But recently, it has become a hot winter spot that attracts more than 1 million tourists each year.
South Korea Ice Festival

The centerpiece of the transformation is the annual Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival, held in January, and named after mountain trout that live in the surrounding mountain lakes and creeks. The festival offers a variety of cultural as well as outdoor activities.

But it is ice fishing that attracts the most visitors — although many also take advantage of ice or snow sledding, bobsledding, ice bumper car, ice soccer, ice biking, snow sculpture exhibitions, and more.

Jeong Gap-Cheol, the county chief in this part of the Gangwon Province, said they had no choice but to develop tourism sites in response to the détente between the two Koreas that resulted in downsizing of the military.

The residents are mostly farmers, and many also run second businesses, catering to the soldiers, including restaurants, bars, shops, motels, and even brothels. "We had to move away from a military-dependent economy. And all we have are mountains and clear water. So, we thought a festival, utilizing those resources, might work," Gap-Cheol proudly boasted.

The idea was to make the farmland into an entertainment park, but at a minimum cost. So, the county tried freezing a narrow part of the river — 1.24 miles long — by blocking water flow that would result in ice, 12 to 16 inches thick. They punched holes in the ice and started inviting outsiders.

Now in it's sixth year, the festival is a huge success. During a crowded weekend day, more than 10,000 visitors brave the cold, sit on ice, drop the bait, and try their luck together. Probabilities are high enough to keep everyone happy, as the organizers pour in thousands of mountain trout, bred elsewhere, into the blocked area, twice a day. Organizers suggest that fishing is best during the early morning and late afternoon.
 

STRANGE ICE FISHING TOURNAMENT IN S. KOREA - OVER A MILLION SHOW UP! - HOPE






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