PyeongChang Bongpyeong Five-Day Market, A Buckwheat Paradise

Food colors our lives and is a window into understanding a foreign culture better…

By now, we are mostly aware of the venue for the winter Olympic Games. At Khaya, we are “on the ground” quite some time before the start of these great events. Our local scouts also give us access to a myriad of information which would normally not have been available in a brochure or travel magazine. So, equipped with this knowledge, we would invite you to keep an eye on little information nuggets such as the one to follow. They are bound to improve your knowledge of the region and will ad another dimension to your stay, should you be fortunate enough to attend the Games in person…

Food colors our lives and is a window into understanding a foreign culture better… This article was written by LIM Hyo-jin, who hails from the PyeongChang area.

My hometown, where I lived when I was a child, had a “five-day market,” which was named as such because it opened every five days. Mom waited for “market day” to buy fresh products, and Dad would drop by the market on his way home to buy snacks for us. The market was not fancy, but it had everything a family needed. One day, when suddenly such memories came flooding back, I headed to the Bongpyeong Five-Day Market.

Held every day with the last digits of 2 and 7, the Bongpyeong Five-Day Market preserves the look of a market from the old days: no overarching roof that blocks the sky―building a roof has somehow become fashionable among markets these days―and no merchants shouting at the top of their lungs. As part of a company’s redevelopment project, Bongpyeong Market combines its traditional identity with modern designs.

As I enter the market, the first thing that catches my attention is memilmuk (buckwheat jelly). Come to think of it, I’ve never tasted memilmuk although I’ve heard the name being shouted by street vendors countless times before. Memilmuk is less glutinous than dotorimuk (acorn jelly), but it gives you the unique, nutty flavor of buckwheat. If you like mild-tasting foods, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to taste this traditional food. The next stall has all sorts of dried seafood displayed at the front, all caught and dried in Korea―a rare sight these days. Dried squid and dried fish bones as well as other “unique items” await customers.

Now, it’s time to taste some of Gangwon-do’s signature buckwheat dishes. I walk into an alleyway full of local diners and get myself a seat at one of them. My order arrives―a simple dish of sun memil muchim (buckwheat sprout salad), memil jeonbyeong (buckwheat crepe), and susubukumi(half-moon sorghum cake). I chose this place because the oksusubukumi (half-moon corn cake), that an older lady was baking at the diner entrance looked delicious. Maybe, she somehow sensed why I chose to eat at her place: she thankfully added an extra corn cake on my dish.

I expected the corn cake to taste quite nutty, but it exceeded my expectations. According to the owner, she made the dough with powdered corn or “chalgangnaeng,”’ to borrow the term from her local dialect. The sweet and savoury taste of corn filled my mouth. The buckwheat crepe had fillings like dumplings do, but they tasted nothing like the latter. Neither too salty nor spicy, the combination of buckwheat cake and the fillings felt like a match made in heaven.

Translate »