Once upon a time a couple was worried about not having a child but had a son in their later years. However, he was ill and weak. They found everything and anything that was good for his health, but nothing had any effect. One passer-by told the couple to feed the son mountain berries, so they did. Surprisingly their son got healthier and powerful and his urine overturned the toilet bowl. Therefore, the mountain berries are called Bokbunja in Korean, which means the seed that overturns the toilet bowl.
The development of the hills in Gochang started in 1974 and was conducted over a vast area of 6,000 ha, which was supposed to be used for bean cultivation. However, people started cultivating watermelons from the late 1970s to supplement farm incomes. Gochang takes 65% of the watermelon production in Jeollabuk-do and 15% of the national production, using 2,000 ha of land. It produces 74,000 tons of watermelons, which are distributed nationwide. Gochang watermelons are high in sugar content and have a great taste as it grows in high temperatures of 28℃-32℃ and in rich psammitic soil with red clay which has high permeability and good drainage.
Gochang Hwangtaebaegi Melon is produced in the clean area in Gochang whose entire administrative district was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Thanks to the perfect conditions to produce melons, including an abundant amount of sunshine, a large day-night temperature difference, red clay rich in minerals, and a breeze from the West Sea, Gochang melons are considered the best for their soft pulp, high sugar content, and full flavor.
The Incheon River area where seawater meets freshwater near Seonun Mountain is called Pungcheon. Grass eels swim to the upstream freshwater and grow there for more than 7–9 years. They stay in the water where seawater meets freshwater before returning to the deep Pacific Ocean to lay eggs. The eels caught during the period are called Pungcheon Eel. As a specialty of Gochang, it is sweet and tasty and brings down cholesterol levels along with mountain berry wine. It is rich in vitamin E, effective in preventing sclerosis of the arteries, cancer, and aging, as well as recovering from fatigue.
All the seaweeds produced in Gochang are produced using the pillar cultivation method. In this method, bamboo pillars are installed at a certain interval and fishing nets with seaweed spores are connected. The spores are exposed to sunshine for a certain amount of time in the tidal area to make seaweeds photosynthesize and grow.
The seaweed grown in the method is rich in protein and vitamins, along with calcium, iron, phosphorus, and other minerals and as an alkaline food, it has almost no fat and is good for diets.
The Haepung red pepper is produced in the clean west coast area. It is resistant to blight and insects as it is grown in an ecological environment with a high duration of sunshine, soil, and humidity suitable for growth, and a sea breeze from the West Sea. It is cultivated in the red clay rich in quality minerals and germanium and is dried in sea breeze and sun to have a clear color, a thick peel and a unique sweet, but spicy flavor and taste.
Once accounting for 35% of the national production in the 1980s, Gochang peanut sales declined due to imported peanuts and its production area decreased due to salt in the 1990s. But the production area is back on the rise. Anyone who has tried Gochang peanuts says they are much sweeter than peanuts produced in other regions.
Mountain berry liquor is made of tasty berries. The berries are defined as a rosaceous and deciduous broadleaf tree from the encyclopedia. Mountain berries are a specialty of Seonun Mountain. Mountain berry liquor is also a specialty of Seonun Mountain, which is made of wild mountain berries grown in the clean environment and picked by women from June to September. Well concealed in earthenware to prevent the exposure to air for 2~3 years allowing for a full body and color similar to a sweetbrier blossoming clear and red in the morning. The liquor has been famous as vigor tonic from early on. The work of picking up mountain berries and making liquor is conducted in an area where men are restricted. It has been said that the work requires women’s efforts according to the principles of Yin and Yang so that it invigorates men’s health.
The alkaline sun-dried salt goes through a process removing bittern for more than one year It was made by the pottery master La Heesul who was from a family that produced pottery for 6 generations over 200 years. The loess roasted salt is packaged in a loess container. The roasting time and temperature in the kiln are important and the skillful masters have produced quality products for generations.
The chief monk of Gaeamsa Temple handed down the method of making Sambo bamboo salt. Monk Hyosan (Jaegeun Heo) learned the method while he was the head monk of Gaeamsa Temple. He studied the method and finally developed quality bamboo salt with outstanding efficacy. As a precious cultural property, bamboo salt is Korea’s folk remedy with great tradition and originality.
It’s easy to have a taste of Jakseol Tea when you go to a temple, but Jakseol Tea served in Seonunsa Temple is extraordinary, exceeding the magnificence of tea served in China. Jakseol Tea is a type of tea that comes from a young leaf. The name originated from the fact that young leaves are picked when they grow as long as sparrow’s tongue and during the season around Guyu (Grain Rain)
Korean embroidery looks similar to those from China or Japan, but is unique showing our way of decoration and is born from the patience of Korean women. The human race faced several challenges living on the earth in ancient times, which included clothing, housing, and food. Early humans fashioned clothing from animal skin, tree bark, or tree leaves or combined them to cover their bodies. In the process, needlework transformed and embroidery emerged at the advent of the textiles. In this sense, embroidery was the world’s first attempt to create beauty in people’s clothing. It started as a simple beauty seeking technique, and it later evolved into a culture or a symbol to express ethnicity or rank through clothing.
Gochang porcelain has a millennium-long history. Goryeo celadon helped the country flourish in the Goryeo Dynasty and the porcelain bottles and bowls were produced at the end of the Joseon Dynasty. In terms of materials, the major materials such as silt and white clay are produced and contain a fair amount of arkose, which leads to less shrinkage. Arkose and limestones, the major ingredients used to increase glutinosity are produced nearby, which makes it the perfect location for porcelain workshops in the past. The grayish-blue-powdered celadon which has been inherited from 300 years ago since the mid-Joseon Dynasty and the white porcelain of the Joseon Dynasty is more widely known as Gosudang in Japan and is famous for its outstanding skills and the techniques of used to make porcelain pieces. It has maintained the tradition and reputation by re-creating the marquetry of the Goryeo celadon and the grayish-blue-powdered celadon of the Joseon Dynasty.
Quality mountain berries cultivated in the Seonun Mountain area of Gochang and Simwon-myeon, Jeollabuk-do, where the sea breeze blows are used to make the snacks made in Korean traditional way. Unlike other Korean traditional snacks, it boasts the unique flavor of mountain berries.
Sun-dried salt of the West Sea, rich in minerals, goes through the process of kiln roasting at temperatures higher than 800℃ with bamboo, pine tree, pine resin, and red clay. Impurities are eliminated and toxic substances including heavy metals are purified from the sun-dried salt to fortify the salt’s natural helpful functions. The mineral-rich salt is the combination of our ancestor’s wisdom and their master’s spirit.