Leftover Ramen Broth Is Causing Problems on South Korea’s Mount Halla

Visitors are dumping the salty liquid on the ground, and authorities are concerned about its impact on plants and animals

Hikers walking up wooden boardwalk toward a mountain
Mount Halla is located on Jeju Island, a population tourist destination south of the Korean peninsula. Ed Jones / AFP via Getty Images

National parks and other protected spaces face a wide array of issues, from vandalism and overcrowding to potentially dangerous wildlife encounters.

But in South Korea, staff at a popular national park are battling an unusual problem: ramen noodles.

Hikers visiting Mount Halla, the highest mountain in South Korea, often bring the instant noodles with them as a snack. When they’re finished eating, they discard the leftover broth on the ground.

Visitors are dumping between 26 and 31 gallons of broth per day, reports the Korea Times’ Jung Da-hyun.

Authorities are concerned about the environmental implications of this trend, as the salty liquid could run off into streams and harm aquatic wildlife. They’re also worried about how ramen broth will affect the growth of endangered plant species on the mountain. The smell is attracting wildlife like crows and weasels.

To address the issue, the National Park Office of Mount Halla has started an initiative to encourage visitors to keep the mountain clean.

According to CNN’s Lilit Marcus and Gawon Bae, authorities have erected signs near the mountain suggesting hikers use just half of the instant noodles and water instead of making the full amount. One sign states, “Let’s preserve the clean Mount Halla and pass it on to descendants as it is.”

National park staffers have also installed five large containers where visitors can safely dispose of their leftover ramen broth, reports the Korea Times.

Mount Halla stands 6,388 feet tall. It’s located on Jeju Island, a popular tourist destination south of the Korean peninsula in the East China Sea. Jeju is a volcanic island with lava tube caves, waterfalls, rock formations and cliffs. A lake-filled crater sits at the top of Mount Halla.

UNESCO designated the island and its lava tubes a World Heritage Site in 2007. In 2023, more than 920,000 people visited Mount Halla, per CNN.

Coincidentally, soup factors into an oft-repeated legend about Yeongsil Trail, one of the hiking routes within the national park, according to Thrillist’s Jeanine Barone.

The saga goes something like this: A woman with a huge family was making a pot of soup one day while her 500 sons were out hunting. At some point, she fell into the soup and drowned. When her sons returned home, they couldn’t find their mother, but they did find a delicious cauldron full of soup. Later, they realized they had eaten their mother and began to cry, which caused them to turn to stone. Today, those stones line the Yeongsil Trail.

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