Thursday, January 19, 2012

PyeongChang of South Korea: birthplace of yellow dried pollack

Not only the Koreans, but also many foreigners around the globe now know of PyeongChang after this tiny rural town in mountainous Gangwon Province of South Korea won its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in July last year.

Pyeongchang (Pyeongchang-gun) is located in the Taebaek Mountains region. It is also home to several Buddhist temples, including Woljeongsa. It is located approximately 180 km (110 mi) east of Seoul, the capital of South Korea Since then, hundreds of travelers are visiting the county, nestled inside mountains, every day to see what it is all about.

These days when PyeongChang and other nearby areas receive heavy snowfall, skiers and snowboarders are the main group of visitors flocking to Alpensia, Yongpyong and other ski resorts located in the 2018 Olympics site.

Besides a range of winter sports activities, PyeongChang has plenty more to offer travelers, regardless of their age and gender.

This very small county is the birthplace of "hwangtae," or dried pollack. Tourists can see how one of Koreans’ favorite foods is made by visiting a dozen hwangtae doekjang, or drying fields, the largest of their kind in the country. They present a magnificent picture of over tens of millions of pollack being dried at the same time.

There are many restaurants throughout the county which serves a colorful and variety of authentic hwangtae dishes.

For those who love to walk on a snow-covered trail and view a spectacular view of snowy mountains, Seonjaryeong is also the place to go. This 1,157-meter-high point offers trekkers dazzling views from all directions.

Hwangtae deokjang

Only a few people know about residents in PyeongChang were the first to make hwangtae in the country. People from North Korea who settled in the area began making and consuming dried pollack in the date back of 1940s.

Inje, north of PyeongChang, is a well-known hwangtae producing area. But Hoenggye and other townships in PyeongChang are the real birthplace. The weather conditions there is the most optimal for drying pollack, according to Choi Young-gil, CEO of Hwangtae Daegwallyeong Story, the largest hwangtae producer and retailer in the Korea.

According to him in the past, Korean fishermen caught pollack in the East Sea. But due to rises in sea water temperatures, the fish these days are caught only in waters off Russia. That's why they import pollack from Russia and turn them into hwangtae.

It takes about four months to produce high-quality dried pollack. It seems people out there usually set up hwangtae deokjang in late November and hang pollack on a two-story wooden structure in early December, leave the fish there until mid-March and harvest it by the end of March.

PyeongChang produces over 21 million hwangtae annually.

It is no surprise there are many restaurants in PyeongChang that offer visitors a various range of genuine dishes using the region’s specialty. Located in Hoenggye, Hwangtae Hoegwan (033-335-5795) serves the full range of hwangtae dishes, from hwangtae soup to hwangtae guui one of my favourite (grilled pollack) and hwangtaejjim (steamed pollack).


Once people filled up their stomach with hwangtae dishes, people look for outdoor activities. Trekking an 11-kilometer-long trail created along the mountain ridge that begins in Daegwallyeong is a must-do for visitors to this snow-covered rural town.

Pic Source: Wikipidia

It takes about four hours to travel the trekking path back and forth, which offers fantastic views from all directions. When climbers reach the highest point, called Seonjaryeong which is 1,157 meters above sea level, they can view the East Sea to the east and mountain chains stretching from North to South. On the west, PyeongChang and other rural towns are seen nestled inside the mountains.

On top of that, there are also 37 giant wind power turbines set up along the mountain ridge, offering a rather unusual spectacles.

References: Wikipidia, The Korea Times

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