There's No Business Like Snow Business

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There's No Business Like Snow Business

If you live in Korea, you may be a little tired of snow after the recent blizzards but a visit to the Mount Taebaek Snow Festival will reignite your enthusiasm for the white winter. The festival opened last weekend and will continue till Sunday in Mount Taebaek Park in Kangwon province.

There are many ways to have fun in the snow, as the festival proves. Visitors can walk through a snow tunnel, ride a sled, marvel at snow sculptures, find their way out of a snow maze and, of course, build a snowman. There are also some more sophisticated activities available – how about a very cold beer served in an
igloo?

The snow tunnel is near the entrance to the park. It was made from timber logs in a similar fashion to those used inside mining shafts, but this one is special. It's covered, both inside and out, with a layer of snow and the interior is lit with tiny
light bulbs, which enhance the cozy ambience.

This year, 500 ogung sleds have been made available to visitors. An ogung sled has two shoulder straps and a harness, which make it look rather like a knapsack or a parachute. Sledders carry them on their shoulders while climbing the slope, strap them on and slide down.

The word ogung is an abbreviation of origungdungi,which means "duck's bottom."

The sled is so named because ogung sledders' backsides are thought to resemble those of ducks: the sleds restrict movement so sledders have to adopt a waddle.

People can ride the sleds anywhere on the mountain but there is also a slope reserved especially for them. On Sunday there will be a special ogung sled race and a barbecue party at the park's Danggol Plaza.

Participants in the event will receive souvenirs at the end of the race and will enjoy a free barbecue. The sledding events will start at 11 a.m. and finish at 3 p.m. Renting an ogung sled costs 5,000
won ($4) a person. Another one of the festival's main attractions is the snow sculpture contest.

Twenty amateur teams entered the carving competition and the results are now on display near the park's Citizens' Constitution
Monument. Take a camera to the festival and get some pictures next to these huge – up to 4 meters high – and beautiful sculptures.
A cold brew in an igloo is another appealing option.

Over two meters high and nine meters wide, this igloo was built for purpose of housing a cafe. Its walls are about one and a half meters thick, insuring the right temperature to keep those inside quite snug.

The cafe is full of brilliant ideas such as serving cold beer or cocktails in glasses made of ice, which are to be aimed at dart boards hanging on the wall when the glass has been drained. All your stress will dissipate as soon as the glass dart hits the board or, in some cases, the wall and shatters. The cafe is open between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Visitors can also find themselves lost in the snow or "Snow Maze." Snow blocks averaging a meter and a half in height were used to build a maze.

In the Danggol Plaza, there are some snowmen waiting to be decorated by people who may dress them up as they please and take pictures.

Also in the plaza, children can have fun riding a snow slide in the shape of Gulliver from Jonathan Swift's satire "Gulliver's Travels." Remember that there is an entrance fee to the snow festi-val – 2,000 won for adults and 700 won for children – and that you can have fun even when there is no sun.

English- and Japanese-speaking guides will be available at the Tourist Information Center. For further inquiries,call 033-550-2828.

by Kim Sae-joon

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