GEOCHANG, Feb. 23 (Korea Bizwire) – With curling enjoying explosive popularity thanks to the exploits of the South Korea women’s Olympics squad, which qualified for the semi-finals with a tournament-leading 8-1 record, a domestic manufacturer of curling stones based in Geochang County is gaining attention.
After three years of research, starting this year the Geochang Granite Research Center has been producing curling stones using granite mined in the county, and is currently selling them at the Winter Olympics.
According to the center, South Korean-made curling stones are produced in Geochang and nowhere else.
The stones are strictly for non-professional occasions, as the center has so far been unable to produce ones that have been certified as being in accordance with internationally stipulated measurements.
The head of the Geochang Granite Research Center explained that to receive certification, factors such as constant revolution speed are required, and that the center had yet to develop the capability to produce stones to these standards.
He added that the center is continuing to invest in research to attain certification.
Curling stones are produced using only high quality granite, making Geochang an ideal place for a manufacturer to set up shop. The county was designated as a “granite special district” in 2007, the same year the Geochang Granite Research Center was established.
One set (16 stones) is priced at 8 million won, significantly cheaper than stones used in professional competitions, which can go for anywhere from 18 to 20 million won.
A game of Scottish origin, curling officially became one the Olympic sport categories at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics.
Currently, curling stones are only produced by Kays in Scotland and Curling Stone Company in Canada.
Only stones crafted by Kays are used in competitive play, the center said.