Noodle-eating hikers are causing trouble on South Korea’s highest mountain

Mount Halla, South Korea
(Image credit: Getty Images / counterpoint / Imazins)

In the USA and UK, rivers being polluted by sewage is currently a big issue. But on South Korea’s highest mountain, the park officials are having a different problem with hikers fouling up the natural waterways – they’re cutting out the middle man (or middle digestive system) and just dumping food straight into the streams.

One particular kind of food in particular.

According The Korea Times, the National Park Office of Mount Halla has begun a campaign to stop hikers dumping the popular snack known as ramyun broth (the Korean version of the instant Japanese noodles known as ramen) on the mountain and in its streams.

The instant noodles come in a disposable pot which you can eat them straight out of, after adding some hot water. This makes them a convenient meal for hiking – you just need to bring along a flask of hot water too.

But hikers emptying leftovers straight onto the mountain, probably thinking food is biodegradable, so what can it matter? But it is causing an environmental headache.

The broth apparently contains a high level of salt, which can contaminate the valley's water stream, making it impossible for aquatic insects to live in contaminated water, warned the National Park Office in a Facebook post.

And that’s not all. The salt can also endanger plants, while the odor may lure animals like weasels and crows to the area.

The mountain is dealing with as much as 30 gallons of the disposed broth a day. It’s become such a problem that the park authorities have even installed five 15-gallon containers which visitors can empty excess broth into. And even that’s not eliminated the problem.

They’ve also put up signs urging hikers to use just half of the instant noodles and water instead of making the full amount. One sign says, “Let’s preserve the clean Mount Halla and pass it on to descendants as it is.”

Mount Halla, 6,388 feet tall, is located on Jeju Island, a popular tourist destination south of the Korean peninsula in the East China Sea.