+ A

Fishing for fun in Pyeongchang : Celebrate ice and snow with winter festivals in Gangwon

Feb 15,2018
A child at the Pyeongchang Trout Festival tries to catch a fish through a hole in the ice over the Odae Stream. The festival runs until Feb. 25. [LEE SUN-MIN]
Top: A child feeds sheep at Daegwallyeong ranch, a popular travel destinations in Pyeongchang throughout the year. Above: The Pyeongchang Snow Festival provides many opportunities to play in the snow, and runs until Feb. 22. [LEE SUN-MIN, LIETTO]
PYEONGCHANG COUNTY, Gangwon - While watching the Olympics, you may find yourself twisting and turning on your couch along with the athletes while they compete on the ice and snow. Instead of just watching at home, head to the Pyeongchang Trout Festival, where not only can you try your hand at ice fishing, but you can also skate around and pretend you’re racing on the short track.

While the fishing at the festival doesn’t require much athleticism, there are times when almost everybody on the ice is wearing skates and racing around as if they are Olympic champions.

The biggest excitement of the day is when the school of fish is released into the frozen stream. Held at Odae Stream, the festival needs to replenish the fish at times throughout the day. As soon as festivalgoers see the trucks filled with fish pull up to the stream, everyone rushes towards their fishing spots. People who were cautious about falling on the ice or guarding their fishing spots suddenly become more courageous and carefree and start running at full speed to ensure that they get a chance to catch a fish.

Soon after, to check if there are any fish swimming beneath them, many kids and adults lay on the ice and search for their catch. From afar, it looks like many people are lying down on the ice as if they are tired and taking a nap.

Of course, there is an area where one can not only cook the fish they caught, but also order some snacks and drinks to enjoy with their catch. Two travelers from Hong Kong were especially excited to take the fish inside to cook after a long struggle to catch something out on the ice. The first-timers to Korea said ice fishing is something they had on their to-do list while visiting Pyeongchang during the winter months.

Those with Olympic tickets will get a 50 percent discount on ice fishing, which is normally 30,000 won ($27.82). Time your trip so that you can stop by before or after the day’s games. If the express KTX train is your choice of transportation in and out of Pyeongchang, the festival is easily accessible by cab from Jinbu Station, a stop on the KTX line to Gangneung. It takes 5 minutes to get from the station to the festival by car.

If you are more of a snow person than an ice person, head to the Pyeongchang Snow Festival, where you can not only make snow balls to throw at your friends and family, but also take a look at some impressively large snow sculptures. To celebrate the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, there is a sculpture shaped like the Olympic rings.

Pyeongchang Trout Festival ticket holders can get a 20 percent discount on tickets, which range from 5,000 won to 15,000, depending on which snow experience you hope to get.

Other popular spots to visit are the many ranches in Gangwon province that have sheep. Since the areas in the country where you can see animals up close have quickly disappeared due to development, these ranches have become popular spots to visit among city dwellers as they can not only feed and take photos with the sheep, but also walk around the fields where the herds of sheep spend their days. During the winter, the sheep are housed indoors, but the snow-covered field makes the experience picture-perfect.

The Sky Ranch is a relatively small, but it’s big enough for a quick walk and many travelers who want to feel nestled among the low hills prefer visiting there instead of the ranches higher up in the mountains.

Samyang Ranch is much bigger, and while you are there, you can see some large wind turbines standing atop the mountains. Samyang Ranch has a store with products made by Samyang Food that are not available anywhere else in Korea. One of the most popular snacks is Eco Manju, a round-shaped sweet which is filled with paste made from milk. Normally manju is filled with chestnut paste, but the ranch came up with a way to use its fresh milk in an everyday snack.

For more information about the Pyeongchang Trout Festival, with runs until Feb. 25, go to www.festival700.or.kr or call (033) 335-4000. Details for the Pyeongchang Snow Festival, which runs until Feb. 22, can be found online at www.snowfestival.net or call (033) 335-3995. Information on Sky Ranch can be found at www.skyranch.co.kr and Samyang Ranch is found at www.samyangranch.co.kr.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]