INJE, South Korea, Feb. 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Inje Icefish Festival, organized by Inje cultural foundation, is the originator of South Korea's various winter festivities. It was held last month after two years of dormancy due to abnormal weather conditions.
The 17th 10-day annual event this year was held on the vast frozen Soyang Lake in the country's small town of Inje, 165 kilometers east of Seoul from Jan. 21-30.
The festival in Gangwon Province could not be held due to an unprecedented drought in 2015 that dried up the rivers and the abnormally high temperatures last year which kept the lake from freezing over.
The Inje festival has had significant influence on similar ice and icefishing themed festivals in the country.
The event was first held on the vast ice field of Soyang Lake in 1998, which when frozen, is covered by a layer of ice over 30 centimeters thick. Under the ice live a large number of smelt, a fish species that lives in cold water under 10 degrees Celsius. Smelt are called "nymph of the winter" in the country, and they are most active between December and February.
In the winter, the upper course of the Soyang River was usually filled with visitors trying to catch smelt in the past. Local residents began to sell food and fishing gear, which was a starting point of the festival. The county, which was considered winter off-season at the time, then started having icefishing activities during the winter festival.
The festival made great strides year by year, finally becoming a byword for winter events in the country. It became one of three biggest festivals chosen by the government in 2003. The culture ministry also designated the festival as an excellent cultural and tourist event for seven years in a row starting from 2004.
Visitors enjoy catching smelt out of roughly 20-centimeter-wide ice holes and other activities like icefish food tasting, sledding, ice football and ice sledding.
Launched in 2003, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival in the namesake town, 118 kilometers east of Seoul, which has now become one of the world's four largest winter events, has originally benchmarked the Inje festival.
The Inje festival has also facilitated the birth of winter festivals in the other small towns of PyeongChang, Gapyeong and Hongcheon.
In recent years, however, the opening of the Inje festival was uneasy because of global warming and drought. The county had to delay the festival once this year due to warm weather.
"We'll endeavor to recover the glory of our past, although we lost the title of the best winter festival long time ago," a county official said.
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SOURCE Inje cultural foundation