Soybean Sprouts Soup at Nambu Market in Jeonju

Last October, I attended 2016 International Fermented Food Expo in Jeonju as an interpreter. The city in Jeolla-do province is a popular tourist destination and a mecca of traditional Korean cuisine. World-famous bibimbap, the rice dish with colourful toppings on top, is also originated from Jeonju. But the locals of the historic city may also select soybean sprouts soup (kongnamul gukbap, 콩나물국밥) as the signature dish of their hometown.

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Uiryeong’s Famous Rice Cake Wrapped in Herbal Leaf

The district of Uiryeong(의령) in South Gyeongsang province sounded unfamiliar at first. Must be just one of those small towns without much worth seeing, I thought. I quickly realized how wrong I was when I stepped into the marketplace of Uiryeong-gun.
Line-ups.
Where are all these people come from and what are they so anxiously waiting for?

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Bite-size rice cakes under the covers of leafy blankets

Thanks to my above-average height I was able to peek above the heads that are all facing the same direction. We are all looking towards the inside of a small room of a building at a corner of the market. Inside, it’s a group of women in work cloth and aprons sitting around a large table. They are busy working with a big mound of white batter. This is where they make the mangae-dduk(망개떡), or rice cake wrapped in mangae leaves. Continue reading

A Trip to Gangneung and One-and-Only Samsugi Soup

Everytime I travel around Korea, I am blown away by how much I do not know about the cuisine of my own country. Samsugi-tang (삼숙이탕) was also something I’ve never heard of before. A local dish of Gangneung area, Samsugi-tang is a soup made with a fish called samsegi(삼세기), or samsugi in local dialect.

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It’s not a brain! It’s just fish guts.

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[Riding in Korea] Bike Trip from Sokcho, Gangwondo – Part 1

Duration: July 1~3, 2016
Distance: About 80km
Sokcho Bus Terminal ->  Gangreung Express Bus Terminal
Bike Path: Donghaean bike path (동해안 자전거길)

On the first day of July my sister and I took our bikes to Sokcho, a small city on northeastern coast of South Korea. It is now famous for being one of the only few places in the country where you can catch a Pokemon. Thankfully, we got to enjoy the coastal city as it is before all the digital hype took over the place. Our trip began on a Friday morning of Canada day. The intercity bus bound to Sokcho leaves from Yuseong Intercity Bus Terminal at 10:30am.

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On the Streets of Jagalchi Fish Market

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For three days that I stayed in Busan there is one place that I visited everyday and that was the infamous Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장).  I just love the atmosphere of this historic landmark of Busan.  As soon as you step on the soaked pavement you can smell the sea and feel the story of every merchant.

There are two opinions about where the name of Korea’s biggest seafood market come from.  Some say the name “Jagalchi” was originated from the word “jagal” (pebble) as the neighborhood is filled with plenty of pebbles.  The others say that the name came from “galchi”, a popular edible fish in Korea.

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Walking the Gukje Market on Samil-Jeol

The last day of our trip to Busan was a Samiljeol (삼일절: literally means 1st of March).  Naver dictionary translates it to “Independence Movement Day” but I personally question myself if the word “independence” is the correct term to describe Japan’s defeat and withdrawal from Korean peninsula in 1945.

Korea had its government under the name of Chosun Dynasty before the Japanese invaded and took over from 1910~1945.  After World War II was over, the Japanese retreated and new governments of North and South Korea were formed as the nation got divided in half.  I would consider the period of Japanese invasion was more like occupation than colonial era as Korea was never really part of Japan despite the attempt of colonization.  The duration of occupation was short and happened during WWII when such invasion of similar nature happened in other parts of the world as well.  Instead of calling Samiljeol as “independence movement day”, I think “resistance” or “rebellious movement day” sounds more historically correct.

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Reenactment of 3.1 Independence Movement

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Hanbok Street at Daejeon Jungang Market

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A hanbok store at Jungang Market

If you are traveling to Korea, one place that I would recommend you to visit is a jaerae sijang (재래시장: traditional Korean marketplace).  Also known as jeontong sijang, the traditional markets are located throughout the peninsula and most of them are open to public year-around.  I personally enjoy shopping at sijang rather than at modern department stores or malls.  Especially for the groceries, shopping at traditional markets will save you money and allow you an access to fresh, local ingredients sold directly from the producers.  A win-win for all!

Jungang Sijang (중앙시장) in central Daejeon is a historic landmark of the city.  Located near Daejeon station, the market has been serving the citizens of Daejeon for many decades.  My friend, who is a skilled craftsman, wanted to visit the market to get some materials so we headed to downtown on a Saturday.

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