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Published: January 13th 2009
The much awaited Ice fishing festival has begun here in Hwacheon. The festival runs form January 10th - 27th.
So what is it? Well the frozen river of Hwacheon becomes the site for millions of people to have a go at fishing through holes in the ice. You just buy or bring a fishing rod (they are being sold for 2000 won at the festival) and find a hole in the ice that isn't already being used and - well wait for a hungry Sancheoneo fish to come along! There is a stage arena which when I was there had five singing and dancing Soju bottles. The festival luckily has much more than the ice fishing - if like me you are opposed to catching a fish and then letting it writher in pain for 5 minutes while it suffers a painful death all for the pleasure of sport fishing. There are two ice slides where you sit on inflatable tyres and go down the ice. There is also the 'catching fish with bare hands' competition held in an inflatable pool. The competitiors wear only shorts and T-shirt and grab as many fish as possible within the time limit and stuff
them (live) down their T-shirts! You can also rent sledges and play on the ice. They have an ATV area and ice skating. Also ice soccer is available. Around the river bank there are lots of BBQs where you can cook the fish you catch or if you aren't lucky enough to catch anything then you can buy fish in the tents as well. The fishing gear is sold all over town and is very cheap. you can pick up a plastic rod and bait for 2000 won. There are many tents along the river bank some with food, others with souveniers.
We headed down from our apartment on the Saturday and were surprised that there were so many people there. The ice was packed with adults and children all seemingly having a great time. My main issue was the freezing temperatures - which meant after a couple of hours I was heading home to warm my hands and feet!
Hwacheon is quite far north (above the 38th parrell) in South Korea and therefore probably too far for most people to visit but if you wanted to see the festival it is worth a short visit. Probably two
hours if you dont want to fish and if you do then I guess it would depend how long you wanted to fish for...
The intercity bus terminal in Hwacheon only has direct routes from Chuncheon (45 mins) and Seoul (about 3 hours) Every other intercity bus will drop you in Chuncheon and then you can just take the bus from there to Hwacheon (every 30 mins, 4000 won). The bus terminal is approx 10 minutes walk from the festival site.
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