Fishing in South Korea was originally intended for the purpose of feeding people, but in recent years fishing has become popular as a leisure pastime; professional league tournaments are also growing in popularity.
Currently no fishing permits are required in South Korea, either for fishing at sea or in inland waters.
While it is extremely rare to pay a fee for fishing in almost all of South Korea's waters, there are some areas where a day ticket fee is charged, which is approximately US$5,00. The fee is paid on the day; always ask for identification and a receipt.
Privately-owned fisheries ("pay ponds") do charge daily fishing fees, but the cost is low and the fish are stocked, so numbers of fish caught are higher.
Most countries have limits on the number of fish that can be caught or kept. South Korea does not have such limits, but it is advisable to be considerate to nature and future conservation. There are also no limits on the number of fishing rods or lines that can be used at any time by one person; it is common to see carp fishermen with up to ten rods in the water at one time.
There are three main classes of fishing in South Korea: sea fishing, coarse fishing and game or sport fishing.
Sea fishing is very popular. There are many species of fish in Korean coastal waters that can caught at different times of the year, for example, amberjack tuna, flat fish, mackerel, sea bass and even octopus and squid. A variety of fishing types work for each type of species. Live worms and frozen shrimps (krill) catch the majority of species, while using artificial lures can be enjoyable as well.
There are inland lakes, ponds, rivers and streams for coarse fishing. The main species are crucian carp, mirror and common carp, freshwater eels and some species of catfish. A powder- or water-mixed paste is the most popular method for catching these species, but live bait such as freshwater shrimps and earthworms are also effective.
Game fishing is becoming very popular in South Korea. Catching black or largemouth bass is popular, as well as bluegill and snakeheads. Most fishermen use artificial lures and flies.
Bass and bluegill were introduced into South Korea in the late 1960s. They have quickly spread to almost every inland water system, where they have caused the extinction of some local Korean species. They are considered an invasive species in South Korea and should not be returned to the water after capture. There are currently no laws regarding the release of largemouth bass and bluegill.
Fly fishing is another fishing method that is becoming more popular. This method is mostly popular for catching the small native Korean trout which can be found in the crystal clear mountain streams. Other species of fish will readily take a fly on rivers, ponds and lakes.
Most cities and towns have tackle stores, which stock everything that is needed for a good day's fishing. Usually each area has a certain type of tackle store: coastal towns stock sea fishing tackle and bait, whereas inland towns near to carp lakes stock carp fishing tackle and bait.
There are also many online tackle stores and in most cases delivery is free. Most sites, however, are only in Korean.
There are also two very popular fishing channels available on television: FTV and FSTV, which air fishing shows 24 hours per day and are a resource for fishing locations, seasonal patterns and other enquiries.
There are strict rules for obtaining and carrying a boat operator's licence. Boats with 4hp motor or below do not require a licence. To operate a boat with a gas-powered motor of 5hp and above in South Korea requires a licence. There are three levels of licence:
Foreigners in South Korea can take the boat licence test, which consists of two parts; a written test, which is a 50-question multiple choice test in English or Korean, and a practical test, which takes about 15 minutes and is fairly simple for those with previous boating experience. The examiners speak English and allow foreigners to speak English during the test.
To drive legally with a trailer on Korean roads requires a trailer licence; to obtain this, drivers must complete a ten-hour driving course and a ten-minute driving test.
Drivers who do not already have a number 1 or number 2 Korean driving licence must also take a written test.
The course consists of ten one-hour sessions, which must be completed before doing the test. The course and test are done in an 18-wheeler type vehicle (40 foot trailer), using a T course: drive forward, reverse into a space, drive forward out of the space and then reverse back to the start line.
The course and test cost about KRW 750,000.
For further information, contact a local driving school.
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