Visitors from around the world descend on South Korean ice fishing festival to catch trout


Ice to see you! Visitors from around the world descend on South Korean ice fishing festival to catch trout from holes cut in frozen river

  • Festival-goers are catching fish with both hooks and their bare hands at the festival in Gangwon, Hwacheo
  • Visitors were snapped scrambling for trout as the event kicked off today for the first time in three years 
  • When making a successful catch, some jump into the icy water or even put the fish in their mouths 

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Thousands of tourists have flocked to South Korea to catch fish with hooks or even their bare hands as part of an annual ice fishing festival.

The Gangwon Province county of Hwacheon has seen crowds of visitors scrambling to catch ‘sancheoneo’ mountain trout from a frozen river after the renowned event kicked off today for the first time in three years.

While launched just 20 years ago, the event has drawn in millions of annual visitors and has become a favoured celebration for the abundance of trout that floods the northern province at this time of year.

Festival goers, both locals and tourists, can be seen eagerly waiting near small holes in the ice before making a catch.

When triumphant, some get so excited that they even put the fish in their mouths or jump into the icy water.

As well as taking part in fishing, guests also have an opportunity to try out ice football or even taste grilled sancheoneo.

The event takes place just 12 miles south of the demilitarised zone separating North Korea and South Korea. 

Crowds are gathered both inside and outside of a small pond ready to catch trout at the South Korean frozen river

Photographs snapped at the January event show anglers young and old attempting to land as many trout as possible. 

The event did not take place in 2020 due to unusually warm weather, while the last two years have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To make sure there is plenty of fish, previous years have seen around 32 tons of fresh trout added to the river every day. 

The Gangwon event, launched in 2003, has attracted over one million visitors annually - including both tourists and locals

The Gangwon event, launched in 2003, has attracted over one million visitors annually – including both tourists and locals

Some festival-goers get so excited after a successful catch of sancheoneo that they put the fish in their mouths

Some festival-goers get so excited after a successful catch of sancheoneo that they put the fish in their mouths

Many visitors choose to fish the mountain trout with hooks but others grab them from the icy water with their bare hands

Many visitors choose to fish the mountain trout with hooks but others grab them from the icy water with their bare hands

Those participating can be seen  waiting patiently near small drilled holes in the ice, preparing to catch a fish

Those participating can be seen  waiting patiently near small drilled holes in the ice, preparing to catch a fish 

When triumphant, many of the guests jump for joy, but others get so excited that the jump into the freezing water

When triumphant, many of the guests jump for joy, but others get so excited that the jump into the freezing water

Two festival-goers can be seen taking on a wriggling mountain trout with their bare hands in the icy water

Two festival-goers can be seen taking on a wriggling mountain trout with their bare hands in the icy water

The mountain trout, referred to as sancheoneo, floods the waters in this northern province during the winter season

The mountain trout, referred to as sancheoneo, floods the waters in this northern province during the winter season

Children also participate in the annual event, which has been paused for three years due to warm weather and the pandemic

Children also participate in the annual event, which has been paused for three years due to warm weather and the pandemic

Despite catching what appears to be 19 mountain trout, this man continued to sit by the ice ready for more catches

Despite catching what appears to be 19 mountain trout, this man continued to sit by the ice ready for more catches

A number of festival-goers have brought chairs to sit on as they eagerly wait for an unsuspecting trout to come along

A number of festival-goers have brought chairs to sit on as they eagerly wait for an unsuspecting trout to come along

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