In the winter what else is there to do but try out ice fishing? This week I tried ice fishing-Korean style. I went down to the Ice Fishing Festival in Gangwando with Jonghwan Goh and tested my fishing abilities.
We arrived around 11 A.M and purchased tickets. The fishing area is split into two zones, one for foreigners and one for Koreans. Once you pay you attach a sticker to your coat and you are free to enter the festival.
The staff has mini fishing rods available for use, and you pick a hole and start fishing. There are so many people, and many had success catching fish. However, I did not fish for a lengthy period of time… I lost patience and wandered off to explore for a little while.
In my wandering, I saw the most random assortment of goods. There were Korean skin care products, including face masks, hand warmers, and even chocolate watermelon pies. There were several vendors selling Korean snacks like Hoteok and Bondegi.
In addition to the snack tents, there are fish cleaning and grilling services available. After you catch your fish you take it to a tent and they prepare it for you as your meal. You eat it grilled, baked or even as sashimi.
However, if you didn’t catch a fish you are able to order a grilled fish, which you cook on the grills provided inside the tent
In addition to the fishing, there are Korean games you can play. There was ice soccer, ice badminton, and curling just to name a few. However, the highlight of the festival is the bare hand fishing competition. Spectators surround a pool of freezing water loaded with fish. The participants dress barefoot and in shorts and t-shirts and jump into the pool and try to catch as many fish as possible with their hands. It’s a hilarious spectacle.
The festival is quite fun if you enjoy the outdoors, and traditional games, and the grilled fish is delicious. It’s a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon, and if you have extra time you can check out the Illuminating Ice Sculptures and Lantern Festival nearby.