Thrills, chills, spills on tap for Inje festival

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Thrills, chills, spills on tap for Inje festival

“Do you want to enjoy real sports? Do you feel like getting away from your stressful city life? Then, come to Inje, the paradise of leports.”
The “leports” referred to in the Inje Leports Festival Web site blurb may not be perfect English (it’s a combination of “leisure” and “sports”), but they make for perfect summer fun. Try rafting, water soccer, bungee jumping and paragliding, as well as an inline skating marathon and rock climbing.
This festival highlights a region that has for centuries been regarded for its natural beauty. From the precipitous peaks of Seoraksan National Park to sprawling Soyang lake, the Naelin River, Mount Jumbong and Mount Bangtae, not to mention Sibiseonyeotang Valley and the cascades that fall through that area, Inje country is rich in scenery. Several historic sites, such as Baekdamsa temple, Bongjungam tower, Hankye mountain fortress and Kapdun Li’s five-story stone pagoda, also attract tourists.
So it is that every summer, hordes of city folk come to this area to soak up the outdoors. Right after the rainy season, when the rivers are bloated, tourists can count on a good cold soaking while rafting a stretch of river.
While the county’s year-round population is 34,000, last year county officials noted that 300,000 tourists visited for the 10 days surrounding the first Inje Leports Festival. Provincial and local authorities, the Korea National Tourism Organization and Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation all work to put this festival together.
And organizers are expecting even more visitors this year with events catering to amateurs, professionals and their families. There are tournaments aplenty, starting with the 2004 Nationwide Wild Water and Rafting Tournament today and tomorrow at Wondaeri’s waterfront park.
Launching from Mount Giryong is the 5th Nationwide Paragliding Tournament on Sunday starting at 9 a.m. The 2nd Orea Bungee X-Game, running Saturday and Sunday, offers team and individual contests from ― where else? ― Hapgangjeong Bungee Jumping Point.
If that’s not enough, the 2nd Nationwide Survival Tournament runs from today through Sunday at Inje Lawn Stadium and the 2004 Four-Wheel Automobile Tournament Saturday and Sunday at a stadium near the old Inje General Hospital.
Events open to amateurs include a bicycle trip, horse-drawn carriage rides, rock climbing on artificial walls, rafting at Norumok-Otbachi, bungee jumping, survival games at Inje Lawn Stadium and more. Activities range in price from 10,000 won ($8.50) to 30,000 won. Those who’ve had their share of thrills, chills and spills can take in a traditional percussion performance at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, an acoustic guitar concert at 6 p.m. tomorrow and a vocal performance on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. There’s even a street parade from 3 to 5 p.m. today.
And while visiting Inje, organizers say, try some local food specialties such as buckwheat noodles, trout sashimi and duck meat.


by Joe Yong-hee
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