January’s annual ice festivals have been thrown int0 turmoil around the country due to warm weather brought on by an unusually extreme El Niño. The weather pattern has caused flooding and heavy snowfalls around the world, and brought warmer than usual weather to Korea over the last month. The Hwacheon Trout Festival, a traditional celebration of ice fishing and one of Korea’s seminal winter festivals, has been severely affected. Likewise, in December, the Inje Ice Festival, a similar ice fishing event was cancelled for the second year in a row as the river did not freeze sufficiently. Both festivals usually see a myriad of other on ice activities like human bowling on ice and tug of war.
The Yeongdong Ice Climbing Site in North Chungcheong Province, which usually sees participants scale the 40-100 meter high ice cliffs, has been cancelled. Song In-deok, head of operations at the Yeongdong Ice Climbing Site said, “For the ice cliffs to form you need a week of continuous temperatures at least 10 degrees below zero, but this year we’ve only had three or four days of really cold weather so the cliffs didn’t freeze properly.” Whilst the wall usually freezes over entirely, a mere smattering of ice has left the rock face mostly bare.