INJE, Jan. 30 (Korea Bizwire) — The Inje Ice Fishing festival is gaining popularity, with 110,000 people flocking to rural Inje County on the event’s first day to catch smelts through holes pierced in a frozen lake, the county office said Tuesday.
The annual festival opened Saturday for a nine-day run after a four-year hiatus due to unseasonably warm winter weather.
The lake, located 165 km northeast of Seoul, was packed with people all day long Sunday despite one of the strongest cold spells in the country’s history. Some 6,000 people can enter the fishing area, which reaches 53,000 square meters, at the same time.
More than 230,000 people are estimated to have visited the festival over the weekend, the office said.
Big cheers erupted whenever tourists caught fish from holes pierced at intervals of 2.5 meters in the frozen lake, which has ice about 30 centimeters thick.
“The festival is so extraordinary in its scale, enough to realize the designation of ‘a vast ice field,’” Lee Hee-ok, who visited from Seongnam, south of Seoul, said.
“I’m very happy to do winter recreation with my children in the endlessly expansive ice field,” she said.
Other programs include ice sledding, ice bumper cars, a group snowball fight and a snow sculpture exhibition.
Launched in 1998, the Inje festival is the prototype of the country’s other winter festivals, including the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, which has become one of the world’s four major winter festivals — along with China’s Ice and Snow World, Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival and Canada’s Winter Carnival — since launching in 2003.
“We’re endeavoring to recover the fame of the past,” the office said.