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Hwacheon Sancheoneo fest soon to see 1 millionth visitor

All News 16:13 January 24, 2017

HWACHEON, South Korea, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- The ongoing 2017 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is likely to see its 1 millionth visitor soon, much earlier than in previous years, the event's organizer said Tuesday.

The number of visitors is expected to cross the 1 millionth line three or four days earlier than in preceding years," the organizer said, adding the number of visitors to the annual event was provisionally calculated at 900,000 as of Monday.

Visitors pack a frozen river in Hwacheon, 118 kilometers northeast of Seoul, to fish for "sancheoneo," a type of mountain trout, on Jan. 22, 2017, (Yonhap)

Launched in 2003, the country's leading winter event began to welcome more than 1 million tourists in 2006 with 1.03 million, followed by 1.25 million in 2007, 1.3 million in 2008, 1.05 million in 2009, 1.33 million in 2010, 1.44 million in 2012, 1.38 million in 2013, 1.33 million in 2014, 1.5 million in 2015 and 1.55 million in 2016. The event was not held in 2011 due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak that hit the nation, the organizer said.

The number of foreign visitors, which began to be compiled in 2006, has been also increasing -- 1,200 in 2006, 1,370 in 2007, 2,050 in 2008, 3,030 in 2009, 7,000 in 2010, 25,721 in 2012, 33,970 in 2013, 33,407 in 2014, 52,947 in 2015 and 78,000 last year.

The festival, the 14th edition this year, kicked off Jan. 14 for a 23-day run in Hwacheon, 118 kilometers northeast of Seoul.

The event was chosen as the nation's best festival by the culture ministry in 2010 and regarded as one of the world's four major winter festivals. The program "Catch Sancheoneo With Your Bare Hands" has been one of the biggest contributors to making the festival a global winter event. Sancheoneo is a type of mountain trout.

A foreigner holds up a mountain trout he caught with his bare hands during a festival in Hwacheon on Jan. 15, 2017. (Yonhap)

This year the small county bordering North Korea is trying to get more tourists to stay longer than a day in efforts to boost its economy. To that end, it provides a variety of nighttime programs, including the opening of Seondeung Street, which is full of beautiful lights, night fishing and figure skating.

Street parades are held on Seondeung Street every Friday and Saturday.

Fish-shaped lanterns light up Seondeung Street on Jan. 23, 2017. (Yonhap)

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