Hwacheon, located in the Gangwon-do province, is one of the northern most parts of South Korea. Every January it plays host to the Sancheoneo (mountain trout) Festival for three weeks. During this time, over one million people head to Hwacheon to fish and take part in all of the festivities.
This past weekend I went to Hwacheon for the Sancheoneo Festival. Here are the available activities for the festival:
- Ice Fishing
- Riding All Terrain Vehicles on the ice
- Ice Skating
- Ice Soccer
- Jumping into a pool of frozen water for bare-hand fishing
Here’s the activities I did at the festival:
- Drinking and eating ridiculous quantities of alcohol and food with a group of 50 year old Koreans for five hours (this activity is not listed in the festival brochure)
Koreans, as a whole, are some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met in my life, hands down. I stopped ice fishing after two seconds to look for bait (thousands of people were fishing with no bait, I needed to get a leg up because no one was catching anything). Shortly after my search began I was pulled over by some Koreans and was TOLD to start drinking and eating. It was 11am after all, how could I refuse?
So the booze came out in full force, and the sancheoneo (mountain trout) which they caught earlier that morning was phenomenal, was maybe the best fish I’ve ever had. Then there was sashimi (raw seafood), galbi (barbecued pork ribs), samgyeopsal (fat slices of pork belly), it was a feast. We were barbecuing for the entire time I was there, and washing it down with mekju (beer), soju (Korean liquor made from rice) and some (soju and beer mixed). Impromptu singing and dancing ensued, I was engaging in long-winded tales of me being a father, and one of the other teachers who managed to find the group of people I was with was escorted away in a golf cart by the festival medics (too drunk obviously). Ahhh, good times.
So I missed out on everything and have a vague (being quite generous) memory of the day. Some might say I completed ruined the day for myself (or the Koreans who forced me to drink did), but I reckon I had a better time than most of the other people who went.
After we left the festival. We headed to our quarters for the night where we ate some more, had a bonfire, and then played some drinking games. Good stuff, and even if I did end up essentially ruining the entire purpose of the festival for myself (or do I blame the Koreans who forced me to drink?) Either way, good times.