Family fun, nude run at snow festivalGet your moon boots on! The Taebaek Snow Festival starts tomorrow, featuring ice sculpture competitions, sledding and a whole lot more (even a “birthday suit marathon”).
The annual festival, hosted by the town of Taebaek, attracts numerous visitors to the mountainous region in Gangwon province. Most of the events take place at Danggol Square, which is located at the entrance of Mount Taebaek provincial park, a 10-minute drive from Taebaek train station.
The highlight of the festival is the snow sculpture exhibition at the square. This year’s event features works by renowned snow sculptors including Kim Dong-ryul, the winner of the International Snow Statue Competition at the Sapporo Snow Festival, as well as four sculptors from Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and Hong Kong, respectively.
Snow sculptures by domestic artists include a rather large “goblin gate,” portraits of Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo from the TV drama “Winter Sonata,” a replica of the Silla Dynasty era astronomical observatory tower in Gyeongju, and the harubang statues of Jeju Island. Nearby there is a small bobsled track that visitors can ride, and an igloo cafe where they can enjoy a hot drink, if not refuge from the cold.
Several hiking trails from Danggol Square lead to Munsu Peak, which stands 1,517 meters (4,977 feet) above sea level, and the slightly higher Janggun Peak (1,567 meters), which takes at least three hours to climb one way. The nearby Taebaek Coal Museum displays a variety of rocks, gemstones and fossils from around the world along with mining equipment from mines in the Mount Taebaek area, which was once a thriving mining region. Fossils on display include ancient shellfish, dinosaur eggs and a mosquito in amber. The museum also has a mock coal mine in the basement with wax figures of miners manning the equipment.
On the way to Danggol Square from the parking lot where buses drop off tour groups, visitors can ride a Siberian Husky-drawn sleigh on a small round track, which costs 3,000 won ($3).
There is also a sledding hill, which costs 4,000 won for unlimited runs.
Kids might enjoy the snowman-making competition, Siberian Husky sleigh ride and the ice sculpture exhibition at Hwangji Pond. If you go tomorrow, there will be a street parade in central Taebaek City. On Jan. 22, there is even a “birthday suit marathon,” although runners will not be entirely naked. Free ice fishing is also possible in Geumcheon fishing area in Jangseong, not far from Taebaek Call (033) 581-3121.
by Limb Jae-un
Tourist agencies offer one-day train ride packages to Taebaek and Pyeongchang, where another snow festival is held. (Pyeongchang is located just below the Daegwallyeong ridge, one of the highest in the Taebaek range and home to the Yongpyong ski resort) The packages include train and local bus rides, a dinner box and entrance fees for Taebaek Provincial Park, the snow sculpture festival and the coal museum. For a one-day tour, the train bound for Taebaek departs at Cheongnyangni station in northeastern Seoul at 8 a.m. and returns to Seoul at 10 p.m. There are bus rides and stay-over packages available as well. For train packages, early reservations are recommended. Buses for Taebaek leave from the Dongseoul Bus Terminal located at Gangbyeon station on the No. 2 line. For drivers, take the Gyeongbu Freeway (exit at Hobeop junction), then Yeongdong Freeway (exit at Namwonju interchange) and Jungang Freeway (exit at Jecheon interchange) in the direction of Yeongwol and then Taebaek. For information, visit http://snow.taebaek.go.kr or call Taebaek tourism office at (033) 550-2828.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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