Although the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival runs for 23 days in January, preparations are made virtually all year round, with nearby fish farms raising nearly 130 tons of sancheoneo fish.
“There have been complaints about other ice fishing festivals not having enough fish. But we plan ahead and prepare enough fish for visitors,” Oh Se-bin, the festival planning director, told The Korea Herald.
Organizers make sure visitors get a bountiful catch by releasing 1 to 2 tons of fish every morning, he added.
Sancheoneo, a type of freshwater trout native to Gangwon Province, is another factor that sets the festival apart from other copycat festivals.
Living only in fresh, cold, clean water, the mountain trout is known here as “the queen of valleys.”
“Unlike other types of trout that spend some time in the sea before returning to fresh water to spawn, the sancheoneo lives in fresh water,” Oh explained.
Since its inception in 2003, the event has grown into one of the most popular festivals in Korea, attracting about 30,000 to 150,000 visitors a day. On Jan. 24, 15 days after its opening, the number of visitors to this year’s festival surpassed 1 million. It is the ninth year in a row that the festival has drawn over 1 million visitors, the organizer said.
By Lee Woo-young (email@example.com