Archive for the ‘Travelling to Korea’ Category

Janjeon-ri Jinbu-myeon Pyeongchang-gun Gangwon-do

Deep remote valley with legendary palace

During the Samhan Kingdom era, there was a kingdom called the Maekguk Kingdom (貊國: Maek state) in present Ganwon-do Province. The king of the Maekguk Kingdom, King Galwang, (葛王: kuzu vine king) who was escaping from the Silla Kingdom (or Yeguk – 濊國: cloudy state), built a castle in a mountain valley, and the king sometimes went on the observatory tower called Manggyeongdae (Mangundae) looking toward his lost kingdom and wishing for the restoration of his old kingdom. And the king’s maids walked on Sinyeoam Rock, missing their parents and relatives in their home village. According to this legend, this mountain was called Galwangsan Mountain before the name was changed to Gariwangsan Mountain (加里旺山: additional prosperous village mountain).

There is another legend about this village. Instead of King Galwang’s story of escape, the legend about King Galmunwang’s shelter is more understandable. King Galmun (葛文王: kuzu vine literature king) is not a name used by common people but a royal name used by the royal family of the Silla Kingdom. The father or father-in-law of a king, or brother of a king, or a husband of a queen was called Galmunwang. This legend says a Galmunwang made a challenge to be king but lost the power struggle and escaped to this place, seeking a shelter from the attacking royal army. He hid himself here and waited for an opportunity to make another attempt to be king.

Gariwangsan Mountain, which rises 1,561 meters high on the borderline between Pyeongchang and Jeongseon in Gangwon-do, is a magnificent and sacred mountain. On the northern slope of Gariwangsan Mountain, King Galwang or King Galmunwang built up a castle and a palace inside the castle, waiting for an opportunity to be a king of the Silla Kingdom. No remains of the Palace have been preserved after so many years, but the name of the village. “Daegweolteo” (palace site), brings the ancient legends back to mind.

Seasonally attractive valley

Jangjeon Vallley is a deep and remote mountainside valley with a palace site. Of the so many tributaries flowing from Odaecheon Stream, which originates from Odaesan Mountain and flows into Joyanggang River at Najoen near Jeongseon, this valley is the most attractive spot. In spring, Korean azaleas decorate the valley, and in May, vivid green verdure covers the valley. In summer, the dark green forest matches well with the refreshing steams in the valley, and in autumn, colorful leaves present a very attractive vista around this wonderful remote mountainside valley.

Jangjeon Valley is well-known for its green moss. The refreshing water falls and flows along the mossy valley in the primitive forest, attracting many professional photographers all year round. Among the photographers, the valley is better known as Gariwangsan Moss Valley rather than its own official name Jangjeon Valley. It is because the wonderful mossy scenery is very impressive as the subject of photos.

One day I visited the moss valley at Jangjeon. There were few people, as it was a weekday. A middle-aged man was indulging in taking photos of the mossy valley without realizing anyone else beside himself was there. I was shocked to see him try to demolish the moss around him with his shoes and stones. After taking his photos of the mossy valley, he was trying to destroy the attractive mossy scene.

“What are you doing?” I shouted. Hearing my voice, he was surprised and immediately ran away down below the valley. I was very disappointed to witness this incredible incident, of which similar incidents I had heard about before from the tourists visiting this valley. The reason the man did what he did is simple. The photographer was so selfish that he did not want to allow anyone else to take a photo of this attractive place, just as he had done. For this reason, he tried to destroy the attractive scenery, not allowing any other photographers to take beautiful pictures of this attractive mossy valley.

Tenacious vitality of moss in preservation of natural environment

People usually pay little attention to moss. Moss is usually regarded as trivial and uninteresting. However, moss is a natural watchtower in the forest that carries out a more solemn mission than common people do. Furthermore, moss forms a little forest in and of itself. Like a shy maid, moss lives silently in the shade of the forest, but it contributes greatly to its surrounding environment and protects nature very well. Moss is a little bryophyte that lives on wet earth, rock or the bark of a tree in shady forest. Green algae that used to live in water evolved gradually to become moss on LAN. But the evolutionary process of moss was not complete until now, and its shape, biological conditions for growth and fertilization method are quite different from other plants. The spores of moss are spread through water or wind to fertilize other moss groups. However, the survivability of moss is really amazing. Moss survives all year round, including in the sultry summer weather and severe icy cold in winter. Moss can survive even in the freezing north or south poles.

Moss keeps moisture in its body. Some moss can contain as much water as 20 times its own weight. Therefore moss functions as a lifesaver for the animals in the forest during a period of drought and provides nutrition to little insects and grazing herbivore animals. Moss prevents the erosion of top soil and functions as nutritious food for plant eaters. If moss dies away, it returns to the earth. As moss prevents floods and landslides, it is a very beneficial plant for human beings, too, but few people know this fact.

Copyright KBS WORLD

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Railway services: The Korea Railroad (KORAIL) operates three types of trains ― high-speed (KTX), express (Saemaeul), and local (Mugunhwa) ― along an extensive nationwide network. The KTX trains link Seoul with Busan, Mokpo, East Daegu, Gwangju and Iksan. Since even the longest KTX trip is under three hours, there are no dining cars, but passengers can purchase snacks and beverages from service carts provided.

Express trains usually have dining cars. Most popular destinations in the nation can be reached via direct line or a single transfer. Check Korea Rail’s website (www.korail.go.kr) for information about combination train-ferry tickets and rail passes available. (Note: Rail passes are only available to inbound tourists and must be purchased from certified Korail vendors overseas.)

Local and city bus services: Regular intercity and long-distance express bus networks connect virtually all cities and towns in the country. Regular intercity buses are the least expensive way to travel around the country but make frequent stops. Bus fares range from 700 to 1,800 won (US$0.74~$1.91). The website “www.visitkorea.or.kr” has detailed information. Click on “Transportation.”

Long distance express buses: Long distance express buses go directly to their destinations, stopping only at expressway rest areas every few hours. Two types of buses link every major city in the country. Regular intercity buses have four seats per row. The more-expensive deluxe buses have only three seats per row and offer amenities such as phones and movies. Some lines run late-night deluxe express buses as well. Seoul has three intercity terminals providing service to different parts of the country ― the main Express Bus Terminal and Nambu Bus Terminal on Subway Line 3 in Gangnam and the Dong (East) Seoul Bus Terminal near Gangbyeon Station on Line 2. Busan’s Express Bus Terminal is in its eastern downtown area.

Subway services
: The subway is the most efficient and convenient way to get around Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Incheon and Daejeon. Subways have developed into these cities’ main transportation systems and provide fast, safe, and comfortable rides. The Seoul Metro links all neighborhoods with the outlying areas and satellite cities. Fares vary according to destination, the basic fare being 1,000 won (US$ 1.06). Passengers can easily pay bus and subway fares and receive free transfers by using a debit card, known as T-money.

Taxi services: There are two kinds of taxis ­ regular and deluxe. Fares are based on distance and time. The black deluxe taxis are more comfortable, provide better service and charge more than the regular gray taxis. Nearly all taxis are equipped with a free third-party interpretation system that can be accessed by cell phone if passenger and driver have difficulty communicating.

Car rental : Driving can be an exciting and effective way of getting around Korea. Extensive road and expressway networks are available, which means you can visit every corner of the country easily.

**Drivers must meet the following requirements:
-Have more than one year’s driving experience.
-Have an International Driver’s License.
-Be over 21 years of age.
-Possess a valid passport.

Rental fees vary from 68,000 to 265,000 won (US$ 71.5 – $ 278.9) per day, depending upon the type of car. The speed limit is 60km/hr for most roads in the city and 80-100km/hr on expressways. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a felony that may result in a heavy penalty.

Ferry services : One of the most pleasant ways to see Korea, popular mainland to island ferry routes are Busan to Jejudo, Mokpo to Hongdo, and Pohang to Ulleungdo. There are ships making runs between Busan and Yeosu, with many in-between stops possible at ports along the south coast and Hallyeo Maritime National Park. Click “Transportation” on the website www.visitkorea.or.kr for more information about transportation and many other tourist-related information.

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Origin of Kimchi
For as long as humans have been cultivating they have enjoyed the nutritional elements of vegetables. However, the cold winter months, when cultivation was practically impossible, soon led to the development of a storage method knowns as ‘pickling’. Rich in vitamins and minerals, kimchi was conceived in Korea around the 7th century.

Use of Hot Red Pepper Powder
Many years ago, kimchi was merely regarded as a salted vegetable. Yet, throughout the 12th century, with the addition of several spices and seasonings, it grew steadily in popularity. It wasn’t until the 18th century that hot red pepper was finally used as one of the major ingredients for making kimchi. In fact, the very same kimchi as we know it today has retained the same qualities and cooking preparations that prevailed ever since it was first introduced.
The Origin of the Name, Kimchi
It is suspected that the name kimchi originated from shimchae (salting of vegetable) which went through some phonetic changes: shimchae – dimchae – kimchae – kimchi.
Reasons Why Kimchi Was Developed in Korea
Few fermented vegetable foods are found worldwide. Some possible reasons why kimchi was developed as a fermented food especially in Korea are as follows: (1) vegetables were popular to the ancient people in Korea whose main industry was agriculture; (2) Koreans had a remarkable technology for salting fish which was frequently used as a seasoning; (3) cabbages (brassica) appropriate for making kimchi were widely grown.
Major Historical Periods of Korea
The development of kimchi is reportedly rooted in the agrarian culture that began before the era of the Three Kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula. Due to the cold Korean winter, they had to come up with the storage technology for vegetables as a means of securing food.
Kimchi in Ancient Times
It is difficult to identify the development of kimchi throughout ancient times, as historical records remain scarcely available. We can only assume that they simply salted vegetables in order to preserve them as long as possible.
Kimchi during the Goryeo Kingdom
Although there are records that clearly indicate the root of kimchi’s discovery, cabbage was first mentioned in an oriental medicine book titled ‘Hanyakgugeupbang’. There were two types of kimchi – jangajji (sliced radish preserved in soy sauce) and sunmu sogeumjeori (salted radish). In this period, kimchi began to receive new attention as a processed food enjoyable regardless of season as well as storage food for winter. It is suspected that the development of seasonings at that time enabled spicy kimchi to appear.
Kimchi in the Joseon Period
It was after foreign vegetables, in particular, cabbages (brassica) were introduced and used as the main ingredient that the current form of kimchi was conceived. Hot red pepper was imported to Korea from Japan in the early 17th century (after the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592), but it took roughly 200 years until it was actively used as an ingredient in kimchi. Therefore, it was only during the late Joseon period that kimchi became associated with its red color.
Royal Court of Joseon

Kimchi in the Royal Court of Joseon
Normally three types of kimchi- whole-cabbage kimchi (jeotgukji), diced-radish kimchi (kkakdugi) and water kimchi, were served to the kings of Joseon. Jeotgukji for a good deal of pickled fish was added to the kimchi. A cooking book of Joseon, Joseon massangsansik yorijebeop, explains how to make jeotgukji as follows:
First, cut well-washed cabbages and radishes into small chunks and salt them. Second, mix them with chopped hot red pepper, garlic, dropwort (minari), leaf mustards (gat) and some seaweed. Third, boil fermented fish in some water and cool it. Fourth, add the fish to the above mixture. Fifth, store it in a pot and wait till it is fermented.

Even though the main ingredients of water kimchi (dongchimi) are radish and water, more garnishes were used to enhance the taste in the royal court of Joseon. The radishes used for water kimchi should be of a wholesome shape. In addition, they should be washed and salted for a day before being stored in a jar buried under ground. There is an anecdote that King Gojong, the second last king of the Joseon Kingdom, liked cold noodles in dongchimi juice mixed with some beef juice as a winter-night-meal. Hence, special water kimchi was prepared with pears, which were exclusively used for the cold noodles.

Modern Kimchi
Kimchi has been scientifically proven to be high in nutrition and is often recommended as a valuable food source both at home and abroad. In fact, there has been a significant increase in kimchi exports in recent years. Korean immigrants to China, Russia, Hawaii and Japan first introduced kimchi abroad, and have continued to eat kimchi as a side dish. It gradually gained popularity even among foreigners. Accordingly, kimchi may be found wherever Koreans live. In America and Japan especially, where relatively many Koreans live, packaged kimchi is easily available. In the past, the production and consumption of kimchi was confined to Korean societies, however, in recent years it has become a globally recognized food.

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Visitors to Korea will discover a wide array of unique and delicious food.
Korea was once a primarily agricultural nation, and since ancient times rice has been cultivated as Koreans’ staple food. These days Korean cuisine also contains a large variety of meat and fish dishes along with wild greens and vegetables. Various preserved food, such as kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage), jeotgal (seafood fermented in salt) and doenjang (fermented soy bean paste) are particularly popular due to their distinctive flavor and high nutritional value.

In Korean cuisine all the dishes are served at the same time. A typical meal normally includes rice, soup, and several side dishes, the number of which vary. Traditionally, lower classes had three side dishes, while royal families would have twelve.
In Korea, like in neighboring China and Japan, people eat with chopsticks. However, a spoon is used more often in Korea, especially when soups are served. Formal rules have developed for table setting, which can vary depending on whether a noodle or meat dish is served.

Food is a very important part of Korea culture, and Koreans pay great attention to the way in which food is served.

Different Kinds of Traditional Korean Food

Korean Food – Bap (steamed rice)

1. Bap (steamed rice) and Juk (porridge)
Boiled rice is the staple food for Koreans, it is eaten with almost every meal. In Korea people eat short-grained rice, as apposed to the long- grained Indian rice. Korean rice is often sticky in texture, and sometimes it is combined with beans, chestnuts, sorghum, red beans, barley or other cereals for added flavor and nutrition. Juk (porridge) is a light meal, which is highly nutritious. Juk is often made with rice, to which abalone, ginseng, pine nuts, vegetables, chicken, or bean sprouts can be added. As well as rice porridge, red bean porridge and pumpkin porridge are also delicious.

2. Guk (soup)
Korean meals traditionally consist of a soup served with rice. The soup can be made from vegetables, meat, fish, shellfish, seaweed, or beef bones.

3. Jjigae (stew)
Jjigae is similar to guk but is thicker and has a stronger taste. The most famous jjigae (doenjang-jjigae )is made from preserved soy bean paste. Jjigae is usually spicy and served piping hot in a heated stone bowl.

4. Jjim and Jorim (simmered meat or fish)
Jjim and jorim are similar dishes. Meat and fish are prepared with vegetables and soaked in soy bean sauce. The ingredients are then slowly boiled over a low heat.

5. Namul (vegetables or wild greens)
Namul consists of vegetables of wild greens, which have been slightly boiled or fried, and mixed with salt, soy sauce, sesame salt, sesame oil, garlic, onions, and other spices.

6. Jeotgal (seafood fermented in salt)
Jeotgal is a very salty food made from naturally preserved fish, shellfish, shrimp, oysters, fish roe, intestines and other ingredients.

7. Gui (broiled/barbecued dishes)
Gui is when marinated fish or meat are barbecued over a charcoal fire. The most popular gui dishes are meats, such as bulgogi and galbi, however, there are also many fish dishes which are cooked this way.

8. Jeon (pan-fried dishes)
Jeon is a kind of Korean pancake. Mushrooms, pumpkin, slices of dried fish, oysters, unripened red peppers, meat, or other ingredients are mixed with salt and black pepper, dipped in flour and egg and then fried in oil.

9. Mandu (dumpling)
Mandu are Korean dumplings, which are stuffed with beef, mushrooms, stir-fried zucchini, and mungbean sprouts. Pork, chicken, fish or kimchi are sometimes used instead of beef.


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Korea is considered paradise when it comes to food. You can find everything from Korean, Western, Chinese, and of course such fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King to foreign restaurant chains like Bennigan’s and Outback Steak House. Among these choices the most reasonably priced food can be found at street vendors. Korea is unique in that not only does it have street carts to buy food from, but at night the streets are transformed with small tents that pop-up selling reasonably priced food and alcohol. At street carts, you can choose to eat standing beside the cart or have your food wrapped-up to bring home. Most Korean people consider the food sold here as a snack and do not usually eat it as a main meal. Many street vendors can be found near Sinchon, E-dae, Hongdae, and near many other university areas, as well as in the popular shopping districts of Apgujeong, Jongno, Myeong-dong, and Gangnam Station. Seasons also have unique specialties; bingsu is a refreshing iced treat in the summer whereas warm soup, gimbap, hotteok and bungeo-ppang are enjoyed in the fall and winter.

김밥 (Gimbap)
Cooked rice is slightly seasoned with sesame oil, salt, and sesame seeds. Then it is placed on a sheet of dried laver.
Strips of ham, pickled radish, seasoned
spinach, and egg are then placed close together on the rice;
it is then carefully rolled together until the roll is evenly shaped. The street vendors usually sell a mini-roll.

Price: 1,500 – 3,500 won per roll

부침개 / 전 (Buchimgae/Jeon)
Kimchi or seafood is stirred in a flour mixture, and then pan-fried in oil. Depending on the ingredients of choice, some types of buchimgae include kimchi-jeon and seafood-jeon.

Taste: Kimchi-jeon
Price: 1,500 – 2,500 won per person

떡볶이 (Tteokbokki)
Rice powder is steamed and made into a long cylinder-shaped rice cake called garaetteok. It is cut into finger size pieces and cooked in a spicy and sweet sauce. Meat, vegetables or ramyeon can be added depending on different tastes. Tteokbokki, along with gimbap and odaeng (skewered fish cake), is one of the most common foods sold by street vendors.

Taste: (depending on place)
Price: 1,500 – 2,500 won per person

순대 (Sundae)
This is a traditional sausage made of pig intestines stuffed with a mixture of bean curd, vegetables and potato noodles.

Taste: (depending on place)
Price: 1,500 – 2,500 won per person

어묵 (Eomuk)
This is usually referred to as odaeng. Odaeng is a kind of fish cake. It is made of ground fish. This fish cake is skewered and soaked in boiling water along with radish and green onions. This popular dish is especially loved during the cold winter months.

Price: 500 – 1,000 won for one skewer

튀김 (Twigim)
This crispy fried treat is made in the same style as Japanese Tempura. Squid, dumplings, sweet potatoes, imitation crab, and assorted vegetables are among some of the most popular varieties of twigim that are served up on the street.

Taste: oily
Price: 1,000 won for 4-5 pieces

(Bungeo-ppang/ Gukhwa-ppang/ Gyeran-ppang)
Bungeo-ppang gets its name from its fish-like shape. This sweet snack is molded in the shape of a carp, which is called bungeo in Korean. A pancake batter-like shell is filled with red-bean paste and then baked; it is especially enjoyed in the winter. Gukhwa-ppang is shaped like a flower and is slightly smaller than that of the similar tasting bungeo-ppang. Gyeran-ppang is also made of a pancake batter-like shell, but this is filled with an egg instead of the red bean filling.

Taste: sweet
Price: 500 won per piece

호떡 (Hotteok)
Flour and sugar are kneaded together and shaped into a small ball. Vegetables are sometimes added to the batter. Sugar and cinnamon are usually the staple fillings.

Taste: sweet
Price: 500 won per piece

쥐포, 마른 오징어 (Jwipo/ Dried Squid)
Jwipo is a type of dried fish. At street carts, jwipo and dried squid are roasted over a bed of pebbles.

Price: depending on size and taste, average prices range from 1,000-3,000 won and up for one piece.

와플 (Waffle)
Like Europe and America, Korea has also begun to enjoy the taste of the waffle. Waffles are usually topped with honey or apple jam and butter.

Price: 500 – 1,000 won for 1

닭꼬치 (Dak-kkochi)
Small pieces of chicken are skewered, coated in spicy sauce, and then grilled.

Price: 1,500 – 2,000 won per skewer


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Green tea was first introduced to Korea during the reign of Queen Seondeok (632 – 647) of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. – A.D. 935). Tea helps ward off drowsiness and invigorates one’s mind and body, so Buddhist monks used it as an aid in cultivating their minds. It was during the Goryeo Dynasty (918 – 1392) when Buddhism was at its peak on the peninsula that dado (a tea ceremony) was developed. It was a protocol to guide proper preparation, serving and drinking of tea. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1910) when Buddhism was suppressed under the influence of dominating Confucianism, tea-drinking declined. Today it has revived and is perceived as a sophisticated and healthy practice.

Grains, fruits and medicinal foods are also used in making tea. Popular teas of today are insamcha (ginseng tea), nokcha (green tea), yujacha (citron tea), daechucha (jujube tea), saenggangcha (ginger tea), yulmucha (Job’s tears tea), omijacha (“five-taste” tea from the fruit of Schisandra chinensis), and gugijacha (Chinese matrimony vine tea). At home, cold grain teas such as boricha (roast barley tea), oksusucha (roast corn tea), and gyeolmyeongjacha (tea from the fruit of C. obtusifolia) are often served instead of water.

Insa-dong in Seoul has numerous traditional tea-houses with interesting shop names and elegant antique interiors. They also play traditional music. Visiting one will be a memorable experience.

Annual green tea festivals are held at nokcha (green tea) plantations in Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do and Hadong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do in May.

Tea Ceremony for Foreign Visitors
The Yejiwon Cultural Institute
Program 1 hour (upon request)
Tuition 400,000 won (groups of ten)
Tel. +82-2-2253-2211/2
Fax. +82-2-2253-2213
E-mail yejiwon@yejiwon.or.kr
• Traditional Tea Houses

– Tel: +82-2-730-6305
– Located at the heart of Insadong Street, walk 7-minutes from Exit 6 of Anguk Station on Subway Line 3 (inside Gyeongin Art Gallery).
– Tel: +82-2-733-9746
– Walk 5-minutes toward Jogyesa Temple from Jonggak Station on Subway Line 1. Closed on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. Free sampling available.

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Traditional Korean drinks are made chiefly from rice, sweet potatoes and other grains, usually along with kneaded wheat malt. They are classified according to purity, percentage of alcohol contained, whether or not distilled, and materials used. There are largely five types: yakju (refined pure liquor fermented from rice), soju (distilled liquor), takju (thick, unrefined liquor fermented from grains), fruit wines, and medicinal wines from various seeds and roots. Each type has dozens of varieties. The famous cheongju is a form of yakju and the popular makgeolli is considered takju. Acacia, maesil plums, Chinese quinces, cherries, pine fruits, and pomegranates are some popular ingredients in fruit wines. Insamju is a representative example of medicinal wine, made from ginseng.

청주 Cheongju

Well-known examples of cheongju are beopju, sogokju and baekaju.

막걸리 / 동동주 Makgeolli and Dongdongju

A milky liquor with low alcohol content, this traditional commoner’s beverage is enjoyed not only by farmers and laborers, but by business people as well. It is served at drinking houses around universities, at festivals, picnic areas, or anywhere people might enjoy a mild drink with a fermented flavor.

소주 Soju

Comparable to vodka but less potent, soju is the most popular traditional Korean liquor among the general public. Soju was originally brewed from grains; today it is mass-produced mainly from sweet potatoes.

문배주 Munbaeju

This distilled liquor is brewed from wheat, millet and Indian millet. It is given the scent and flavor of the crab apple, which is called munbae. Its brewing skill is designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property by the Korean government along with that of dugyeonju (azalea wine) from Myeoncheon, Dangjin-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, and Gyodong Beopju from Gyeongju.

Traditional Drinking Etiquette
• Koreans offer glasses of liquor to each other as a gesture of comaraderie. When someone offers you an empty liquor glass, you are expected to hold it out and receive a fill-up, drink it empty, and in likewise fashion return it to the person who offered it to you. This drinking tradition helps promote close ties around the drinking table.

• It is a rule of courtesy for juniors to pour liquor for their seniors. The juniors have to keep paying attention not to leave a senior’s glass empty. When a senior offers a junior a glass, the junior should receive it with two hands and drink with head turned aside, not facing the senior. It is also the custom to cup the right sleeve with the left hand when pouring a drink for a senior.

• In the past, Korean drinking houses used to prepare a special soup to cure the hangovers of customers who had drank the night before. This beef-bone broth fortified with dried outer cabbage leaves and clotted ox blood, called haejangguk, is still a morning-after favorite.


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