[Weekender] Fishing widening its net in Korea

By Kim Yon-se
  • Published : Jul 14, 2017 - 16:38
  • Updated : Jul 19, 2017 - 14:23

South Koreans have diversified their leisure activities in the years since the five-day workweek system was introduced in 2004.

The increased leisure time is fueling the growth of various industries, and fishing is one of the key beneficiaries.

Fishing was usually associated with Korean men, who dreamed of owning a framed photo of themselves holding a big catch. Indeed, fishing had been regarded as a conventional pastime among retirees and a narrow group of devotees, most of whom were men.

The situation, however, has changed. Two TV channels specializing in fishing are churning out information about the leisure activities in a way that boosts the number fishermen while drawing attention among potential anglers irrespective of age and gender. 

(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

As a result, fishing is evolving from male-oriented sport into family outdoor activities or young couples’ weekend exotic dates on weekends.

Outdoor wear market insiders say that many people have yet to notice the low-key growth of fishing. 

“People still talk about climbing or hiking as for the outdoor fashion, but the fact is that a large portion of the consumers buy activities jackets and pants for going to the sea and other fishing spots such as reservoirs,” said an official from an outdoor fashion brand.

He added that a hurdle for consumers, like golf, was equipment, the prices of which sometimes go far beyond ordinary people’s expectations.

Fishing experts suggest that beginners use indoor fishing holes, which allow people to climb the learning curve without leaving the city.

An indoor fishing place in Seoul rents equipment at 10,000 won ($8.70) an hour. Though the fish are artificially introduced from after a river, it is a good introduction to the activity for young couples and children accompanying parents.

Those attracted to the indoor fishing include young women. Many college students and office workers also visit such places on the weekend.

A female teacher in her 30s at Branksome Hall Asia, an international school, on Jeju Island told The Korea Herald that she could see young, amateur fishermen around the seashore on the southern part of the province such as Moseul, Seogwi ports and Yongmeori Coast.

She said some of her Korean colleagues in the school enjoy sea-fishing on seashores where many tourists carry out outdoor activities. “There are many amateur visitors from Seoul and other major cities. Some of them come here just for fishing on weekends.”

(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

The teacher compared the difference between 2017 and 2012, when she moved from Gyeonggi Province to Jeju.

“I could easily see drunken middle-aged men trying to hook a thing here and there five years ago,” she said. “These days I see more middle-aged men have fun with their wives and children by showing them the ropes such as how to handle fishing rods.”

Family-based camping boom is also encouraging women to try out fishing themselves in the hopes of feeling the accelerated heartbeat when there’s a tug on the line, instead of welcoming their husbands who had stayed out fishing on the weekend.

By Kim Yon-se (

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