Soup broth is damaging South Korea’s highest mountain, warn officials

Damond Isiaka
3 Min Read


South Korea’s highest mountain is facing environmental damage from an unexpected source – instant noodles.

The National Park Office of Mount Halla has started a campaign to encourage hikers not to dump ramyun broth on the mountain or in its streams in order to preserve a “clean environment,” according to a press release.

Mount Halla, measuring 1,947 meters (1.2 miles) tall, is the country’s highest mountain and located on popular vacation destination Jeju Island. In South Korea, it’s trendy for hikers to bring ramyun – a type of instant noodles served in a disposable cup – along with them to eat during the day.

Banners put up around the mountain read “let’s preserve the clean Mount Halla and pass it on to descendants as it is,” with signs urging the hikers to use only half of the instant soup and water.

Smoking, leaving food and trash, unauthorized entry and drinking are prohibited at the mountain, and those who violate the rules can face penalties of up to 2,000,000 won ($1,442.15).

“Ramen broth contains a lot of salt, so discarding it along the valley’s water stream makes it impossible for aquatic insects to live in contaminated water,” the National Park Office wrote in a Facebook post.

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Jeju police reportedly conducted a brief crackdown on June 25, following repeated complaints from residents concerning tourist behavior on the island.

Visitors can be ticketed or fined for actions including littering, public urination and smoking in designated no-smoking areas. According to the Jeju police, nine foreign tourists were given tickets and fines (which they had to pay on the spot) on the first day of the new controls, mostly for jaywalking.

The fine for crossing the street anywhere other than a marked pedestrian crossing is 20,000 won ($14.50), and for crossing at a red light it goes up to 60,000 won ($43.40).

Mount Halla is part of the UNESCO-listed Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes heritage site. Last year, 923,680 people visited the mountain, according to government statistics.

And the hot-noodles-on-high-peaks trend is now expanding beyond South Korea.

According to Korean media, ramyun is now offered for sale at the top of the Matterhorn, the Alpine peak in Switzerland.

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