'' Hwacheon Mountain Trout Ice Festival ''

The chance to pluck a sancheoneo or mountain trout, from a frozen river draws thousands of visitors every winter to a cold-weather-loving corner of South Korea.

The annual ice-festival, held in Hwacheon County from Saturday to Jan 28 this year, doubles as tribute to a cherished local fish.

To join in, first, buy plastic hair and a pole on the boardwalk along the Hwacheon Stream. Then venture onto the thick ice and claim a predrilled hole in the fishing area.

Now, it's time to start luring some trout. Pro tip : It's all in the wrist. And in case your aquatic adeptness still feels lacking, experts dart about sharing fishing tips.

Between their advice and the abundance of trout in the river, even an amateur's chances of success are pretty good.

Whether or not you fish, you can still get a taste of the fresh catch [ alas, not your own ] near the fishing area, where a restaurant tent sells the trout fried, grilled and sashimi-style. Order every preparation and savor each with a local drink.

After fishing, warm up with some ice sports. Visitors can skate, sled and pedal the fanciful contraption that is an ice bike, and even scoot around crouched or seated on a wooden plank, steering themselves with two sticks [ sounds hard, but it's well worth the exertion once you get gliding. ]

Some brave souls take a dip in the river, inspiring shivers around the spectators. If you'd rather stay dry, walk about 10 minutes from the river toan indoor ice castle and sculpture landscape that make for exquisite Instagram posts.

Most guests wrap up their festival visit around the corner from the ice castle site, with an evening stroll up a street with a canopy of holiday lights - a bright ending to the day. Hwacheon is about a 90-minute bus ride from Seoul. [Farah Fleurima].


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