Traditional Alcoholic Beverages With Side Dishes
No other "food" has a longer history than liquor. Most countries around the world have produced their own liquors by unique, traditional methods that have been handed down generation to generation for centuries, or longer. Korean liquors have been made from many different fruits, herbs, and flowers gathered on mountains and in fields. The choice of material has always depended on the natural environment and brewing techniques used in each region and even each household. The diversity in home-brewed liquors and traditional liquors is truly astounding. Tens of thousands of different alcoholic beverages are brewed in Korea, despite being such a small country. The fact that so many Korean alcoholic beverages have survived through the ages is attributable to the culture of home brewing. It has been done for an extraordinarily long time and is steeped in the traditions of the region and family. Regrettably, the ban on home-brewing during the Japanese occupation and the westernization of diet after national liberation caused many traditional Korean liquors to nearly or totally disappear. There is now a movement to recognize possibilities of Korean liquor anew. However, preserving and reviving traditional liquors, imbued with tastes and flavors unique to Korea, is a gargantuan task, not to mention developing them to suit the modern lifestyle.
Alcoholic beverages, the theme of this exhibition, are not only beverages simply for drinking but for sharing all the joys and sorrows of life. Since antiquity, the Koreans have said that they ‘eat’ liquor instead of ‘drink’ liquor, which shows that the Koreans long ago regarded liquor as a food rather than mere beverages. Liquor became an integral part of everyday living in Korea and indispensable sustenance, even sometimes medicine. Other times, it is a drink that makes an event even more special, refined, and entertaining, and sometimes, it is as medium through which the joys and sorrows are shared with others. Liquor has always been part a part of ordinary living in Korea. By suggesting diverse ways to enjoy traditional drinking in ways that are steeped in Korean culture and tradition today, Arumjigi seeks ways to uphold and update the culture.
Ten Kinds of Alcoholic Beverages Recommended by Arumjigi
It has long been believed in Korea that “food and medicine come from the same source,” in other words, there is no clear-cut distinction between food and medicine. This of course applies to Korean wine made from grain. There were countless varieties of wine during the Joseon period since every household brewed its own. This is not so much the case anymore since any wine brewing skills that had been handed down through the ages in each household were lost to oblivion, particularly during the Japanese occupation. Thankfully, interest in traditional wine is coming back, and some Koreans began to produce home-brewed wines again in the 1980s under the name of upholding intangible cultural heritage. Documents and old recipes from the Joseon period record diverse methods of wine brewing. Korean alcoholic beverages can be defined as either takju, cheongju (also known as yakju), or distilled liquor called soju, depending on how they are made. The Koreans have appreciated art over drinks every day, and wine has played an important role in seasonal customs and the four ceremonial occasions of coming of age, weddings, funerals and ancestral rites. Depending on who and where the alcoholic beverages were used, different ingredients and brewing method were used. The Koreans exercised especially great care when and where they drank. Arumjigi has deeply considered the future of Korean alcoholic beverages. It has reinterpreted traditional wines to suit modern times to suggest ten kinds of Korean wines that can be enjoyed every day.
Alcoholic Beverages to Enjoy in Each Season
Spring | Dugyeonju (Azalea wine)
Dugyeonju is wine representative of spring. It has long been made in Dangjin, Chungcheonnam-do Province. Azalea petals are the main ingredient. The scent of azaleas from dugyeonju always reminds us of the excitement in expectation of spring. The brand of dugyeonju presented at this exhibition was originally home-brewed by the Park family clan in Dangjin, Chungcheonnam-do Province. Today, the wine is the common wine brand of Dangjin village produced by the Preservation Society for Myeoncheon Dugyeonju.
Alcoholic Beverages to Enjoy in Each Season
Summer | Gwahaju
Korea is very hot and humid in summer, so it was very difficult to brew wine at that time of year. There were obviously no refrigerators during the Joseon period, so brewed wines were difficult to keep throughout summer. Korean wine brewers developed a unique method called honyangju during the late Joseon period. Honyangju inolved raising the alcohol percentage of wine by adding distilled wine soju during the fermentation process so that it would not spoil in the hot weather. Arumjigi recommends Gwahwaju, which embodies the wisdom of the Koreans long ago as a brand representative of summer wine. Designated as Provincial Intangible Cultural Heritage of Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gwahwaju has refined flavor unique to a compound spirit. Gwahwaju is produced by fermentation over a long period of time at low temperature, which makes it taste especially refreshing.
Alcoholic Beverages to Enjoy in Each Season
Autumn | Sogokju
Sogokju is one of the oldest autumn wine brands in Korea. It dates back to the ancient kingdom of Baekje in Hansan, Chungcheonnam-do Province, and it is one of the very best wines. Alcoholic beverages that have been fermented twice are collectively called iyangju, and sogokju is one of them. Made from glutinous rice, non-glutinous rice, nuruk, beans, malt, wild chrysanthemums and peppers, sogokju is fermented for one hundred days. Its alcohol content is 18 percent, which is slightly higher than that of ordinary yakju. It is also called anjeunbaengi sul, literally "crippled wine." This name originated from a daughter-in-law who could not stand properly but staggered in drunkenness after taking a few sips of the wine.
Full-bodied Hansan Sogokju is reminiscent of autumn. With wild chrysanthemums blooming in September and October added, and it smells mellow, which seems appropriate for its gold tint. The sogokju at this exhibition was made by Yu Hui-yeol, daughter-in-law of Kim Yeong-sin, a master brewer who was designated as a Living Human Treasure of Chungcheongnam-do Province.
Alcoholic Beverages to Enjoy in Each Season
Winter | Heobeokju
A distilled spirit with a relatively high percentage of alcohol is appropriate for winter wine since it warms the body. Heobeokju is a specialty of Jeju Island produced by Hallasan, a representative local enterprise. It is not strictly produced by the traditional methods for distilled liquors, which involves distilling fermented drink through soju-gori (traditional distillation apparatus). Instead, it is made by the fermentation method for sungokju, made from rye and brown rice. This is an excellent distilled liquor for today.
Made from the sparkling clean water in the fresh air of Jeju Island, heobeokju was named after onngi (traditional earthenware jar) of Jeju Island called heobeok, because the liquor is contained in a heobeok jar. Its alcohol content is 35 percent, which is relatively low compared with other traditional types of soju. This makes it better suited to drinkers today, and it also goes well with Korean food. Arumjigi selected heobeokju made of alkaline natural bedrock water for winter. It goes well with canola honey.
Alcoholic Beverages for Celebrations
Saehaeju to celebrate the New Year | Dosoju
The Koreans have since antiquity done their utmost to greet the start of the new year with solemnity. It was considered sacred. Dosoju was the first wine to be taken in the new year—on New Year’s Day—with much solemnity and sincerity. Dosoju means ‘wine to ward off evil spirits.’ Do in dosoju means ‘kill’ or ‘catch,’ and so means ‘evil spirits.’ On the first day of a new year, the Koreans would drink Dosoju to ward off evil spirits and welcome good fortune, wishing for the good health of the family throughout the year.
Dosoju bogam (Exemplar of Korean Medicine), a compilation completed in 1610, states that medicinal herbs, such as white atractylis, arame, bellflower root, gyesim, and hojanggeun, were added to dosoju. However, the medicinal herbs added to dosoju today are not exactly same. A hemp pouch filled with medicinal herbs was hung at the bottom of the village well on the New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Day, the villagers would take the pouch out of the well, put it into cheongju and boil it to produce Dosoju. After the Dosoju cooled down, the entire family would get together and sit facing east and drink it. The youngest child would drink the Dosoju first, and every other family member would follow in the order of ascending age, in consideration of the younger members of the family, who were more susceptible to disease. The hanging of a medicinal herb pouch on the village well attests to the great love and care that the villagers had for each other, not only family members but all the people of the village.
Alcoholic Beverages for Celebrations
Haphwanju to celebrate marriage | Baekhwaju
Wine shared by a man and a woman at a wedding ceremony is called haphwanju in Korean. Since antiquity, alcoholic beverages have been indispensable at the four ceremonial occasions of coming of age, weddings, funerals, and ancestral rites. Among these, haphwanju bears the meaning of congratulating a man and a woman becoming one and wishing the couple to live happily for the rest of their lives. Wine still has great meaning even in modern wedding ceremonies today. Petals of one hundred different kinds of flowers that blossom in the season are added to baekhwaju (A Hundred Varieties of Flower Liquor). Because so many different petals are added, baekhwaju has excellent flavor, and is excellent as haphwanju today. With the scent of flowers filling the atmosphere, baekhwaju is ideal for celebrating the wedding, wishing for the couple’s life to be filled with beautiful flavor.
Alcoholic Beverages for Celebrations
Gwallyeju for coming of age ceremony | Gyodong Beopju
Gwallye refers to the coming of age ceremony, one of the four rites of passage. Koreans used to perform the coming of age ceremony when a child became fifteen years old to symbolize the child becoming an adult. Today, the third Monday of May is observed as Coming-of-age Day to celebrate those who become 19 years old, carrying on the legacy of the traditional coming of age ceremony. Gwallyeju is an alcoholic beverage for children who are becoming adults. For gwallyeju today, we recommend Gyodong Beopju, a brand brewed for generations by the Choi family clan in Gyo-dong, Gyeongju. Gyodong Beopju was designated as an item of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage for its rich history and great cultural value. The luxurious looking gold color of Gyodong Beopju is appropriate for celebration of coming of age, and the feeling of dignity that comes from the mild, deep flavor is good for teaching the young the attitudes they should assume as grownups.
Rare Alcoholic Beverages
Wild ginseng collectors traversing every corner of the country searching for the native herb usually stay at a certain place for two nights, three days. During this time, they often have opportunities to taste specialty wines of the region and sleep off their hangovers. The couple who introduced Duryun Takju said that they took interest in this rice liquor after finding that it did not cause them any headache even after drinking a lot of it while they were staying in Haenam, Jeolla-do Province to find herbs. Duryun Takju was named after Mt. Duryunsan in Jeolla-do Province. Medicinal herbs including deodeok, danggui, and bongsam were added to the liquor and matured together. Duryun Takju is produced by Samsan Brewery in Samsan-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do Province. Lee Jungja, who married a man from a family in Songji, Haenam in the 1960s, learned the brewing technique from her father in law and still runs the brewery today. The alcohol content is 6 percent. Nuruk produced in Jeolla-do is used. Made from rice and danggui by a traditional brewing method, Duryun Takju has an inviting smell. It is matured in traditional onggi jars for 15 days. As this is unrefined rice wine, it needs to breathe during its distribution and storage and should be covered with a porous lid.
Rare Alcoholic Beverages
Ohui, a Sparkling Wine
Ohui is a brand that came into being when the brewers sought to answer the question, “How can makgeolli be different?” Ohui is clearer than makgeolli. When shaken, Ohui becomes translucent as sediment rises up and becomes suspended for a time. It then becomes clear again soon afterwards when the sediment settles again. The presence of sediment shows that Ohui is a type of takju rather than yakju. Makgeolli is usually made from rice or wheat, which give it a milky or ivory shade. A fruit herb called omija from Dongno-myeon, Mungyeong is added to Ohui to make the liquor reddish. The rice used for Ohui is polished at a mill in the neighborhood. Mungyeong Brewery, producer of Ohui , reportedly established its brewery in Dongno-myeon, Mungyeong specifically to ensure ready access to fresh omija. Ohui and omija makgeolli go well together. Omija makgeolli is produced through the first fermentation, and Ohui is produced through the second fermentation. That is, the first fermentation is done to ensure that no sugar remains, and the second fermentation is done with fermented omija liquor. Ohui eliminated the common public perception of makgeolli as being thick because of the short fermentation period and lack of maturity. Ohui is a clearer type of makgeolli. In fact, it is actually a sparkling wine with the strong taste of a carbonated beverage. Its alcohol content is 8.5 percent, so it is neither too mild nor too strong. Certainly, more different types of makgeolli need to be made now. There are many ways to make makgeolli that result in varying levels of alcohol content, turbidity, weight, fizziness determined by the amount of carbonation, color, and so on. Ohui is a good example of such efforts.
Rare Alcoholic Beverages
Dating back to the Goryeo period, samhaeju or samhae yakju is court wine that used to be consumed in upper-class households. It is designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Seoul Metropolitan Government. Made from rice and nuruk, samhaeju is fermented three times over 100 days. The first raw base is made on the first pig day of the first lunar month, followed by second and third batches. A pig day is the 12th day of the month, according to the 12 Earthly Branches of a Chinese system to reckon time. Although samhaeju is a traditional wine once called "The Wine of Hanyang" (Seoul today), it is now difficult to find a brewer of samhaeju in Seoul. At present, samhaeju is made by Gwon Hui-ja, a master of samhaeju. It used to be brewed by the Andong Kim Family Clan during the Joseon period. Hoping that it will become widely known as a wine that represents Seoul once again, The Cuisine Studio of Onjium, the Research Institute for Korean Traditional Culture introduces samhae yakju, a traditional cheongju, or clear wine, a wine of the upper class.
The Marriage of Korean Wine and Side Dishes
The Koreans have enjoyed drinking in every day since antiquity. At every meal, they enjoyed pairing an alcoholic beverage with food. We call it banju munhwa in Korean, meaning alcohol accompanying meals. As there has been a ‘marriage of food and wine’ in Western society, so have wine and food also been matched in Korea since long ago. At this special exhibition, ten alcoholic beverages suggested by Arumjigi are accompanied by matching traditional Korean side dishes.
The Drinking Scene
Alcoholic beverages are much more than mere drinks. They are sometimes a medium through which art and literature are appreciated and created together, or joys and sorrows are shared. The Koreans long ago particularly accorded drinking etiquette the utmost importance. Not only alcoholic beverages themselves but bottles and cups containing alcohol and vessels to serve the side dishes, as well as the entire table setting, should be done in harmony, delivering taste and flavor. The drinking scene, the subtitle of this exhibition, aims to present crafts for realization of drinking culture for modern society, while upholding the drinking spirit of the Koreans from times long past. Wine bottles from the Joseon period interpreted by Koo Bohnchang, a photographer, reveal the timeless essence of Korean beauty. Crafts created by thirty artists engaged in diverse fields including white porcelain, wood, glass, metal, and onggi show Korean drinking culture elegantly through their works. Hwang Kap Sun, professor of ceramics at Seoul National University, and his research team presented many different end products through joint research for this exhibition. We expect that the crafts presented at this exhibition will provide an opportunity to reinterpret various aspects of traditional vessels, including their shape and proportion, material, functionality, and meaning from diverse points of view, and serve as a meaningful process to apply tradition to modern life.
Koo Bohn Chang
The public is less aware of the beauty of Joseon white porcelain than Goryeo celadon. I gradually learned to appreciate the charm of white porcelain imbued with beauty of simplicity. The simplicity of Joseon white porcelain enabled me to see the beauty of being unselfish and the purity that came from the unpretentiousness of craftsmanship of Joseon potters. Since 2004, I have visited sixteen museums and private collectors all over the world in search of Joseon white porcelain and photographed their pieces. I have tried to see white porcelain as vessels containing spirit rather than as mere ceramic pieces. In my photographs, I expect that the viewers will find the aesthetics of the Joseon period and the spirit of the makers in Joseon white porcelain.
1. AAM 08 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 1/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 1/30 Asian Art Museum, SanFrancisco 소장, 25x20cm
2. HR 03 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 9/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 9/30 Horim Museum, Seoul 소장, 25x20cm
3. OM 05 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 1/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 1/30 Museum RICHO, Kyoto 소장, 25x20cm
4. AAM 07 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 1/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 1/30 Asian Art Museum, SanFrancisco 소장, 25x20cm
5. MG 04 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 1/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 1/30 Musée Guimet, Paris 소장, 25x20cm
6. HR 04 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 13/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 13/30 Horim Museum, Seoul 소장, 25x20cm
7. BM 02 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 1/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 1/30 The British Museum, London 소장, 25x20cm
8. HR 11 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 1/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 1/30 Horim Museum, Seoul 소장, 25x20cm
9. FM 01 BW 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트 에디션. 11/30 Archival Pigment Print Ed. 11/30 The National Folk Museum of Korea, Seoul 소장, 25x20cm
Hwang Kap Sun
It is really challenging to produce transparent, hard ceramic wine bottles and cups that should satisfy the aesthetics of our times while upholding the identity of the Korean people by enhancing value of Korean tradition in place of cheap, mass-produced glass wine bottles.
There are no precedents or appropriate standards, so determining the shapes and sizes of different wine bottle considering the alcohol percentage, diversity of flavors, and colors of traditional Korean wines as well as the number of people to be served and the purpose of wine to be served is much more difficult than production itself when developing appropriate cups and vessels. Nevertheless, the wide variety of traditional wines and rich drinking culture could provide momentum in discovering many different materials and developing them.
A series of vessels presented at this exhibition were produced to serve ten alcoholic beverages and matching side dishes selected by Arumjigi for this special exhibition.
White porcelain clay and glazes of varied textures were used for production of the ceramics. Since wine bottles and cups do not have handles, I focused on glazing the surfaces in a way that gives users tactile excitement, not to mention visual amusement. I tried hard to produce bottles and cups that should deliver joy ergonomically and in doing so deeply considered the volume and movement of the exterior contour lines of the vessels.
Vessels for side dishes to match a wine bottle and cups were designed to give sense of unity as much as possible. Some vessels for colorful side dishes were made relatively large and luxurious, which is appropriate for hyangeumjurye, a ceremonial gathering of intellectuals that involved a great deal of drinking and merrymaking. These vessels give us joy, bringing changes to our ordinary life, as they did for the Koreans long ago.
Korea has a long, rich history of ceramics and rich, varied cuisine, so it is surprising to see the obvious lack of diversity of vessels for alcoholic beverages. I am very pleased to see that Arumjigi is hosting this special exhibition. It will certainly further the development of hyangeumjurye culture anew, while upholding the spirit of the Koreans embodied in it.
Design for Rich Drinking Culture
How can we reinterpret traditional Korean alcoholic beverages? ‘Introduction of new alcoholic beverages’ does not mean launching only a popular product. To change alcoholic beverages, bottles should be changed and cups should be changed, and the interior design of the space where people get together to drink should be redone. Then, alcoholic beverages will lead to a blossoming of new culture. If we are to regard drinking as joy and amusement rather than a mere act of consumption, we need to think about the materials and space surrounding alcohol in addition to the alcoholic beverages themselves.Alcoholic beverages are not a staple. People drink them for pleasure. Different bottles and cups or glasses are used for each type. The problem is that you can choose whatever glass or cup you like, but you cannot choose the bottle. If you look at bottles closely, you will see that the visual images on them vary depending on the type of alcoholic beverage that they contain. Bottles for beer, soju, wine, and Japanese cheongju each have typical images. For makgeolli, a plastic bottle is typical.Glass bottles are again being used for it, but no standard glass bottle has yet been agreed upon. Even so, a makgeolli bottle is acquiring a certain image. But what about traditional Korean liquors yakju and soju? They have no uniform image because every brewery of yakju and soju uses ceramic bottles of different shapes. For breweries of traditional Korean wines designated as cultural heritage, which started with home-brewed wines, it is difficult to handle the process of designing bottles and distribution and sales of their products effectively, because most are small family business without expertise in every process. I insist that the standardization of bottles not be attempted by any one brewery or enterprise: this should be the responsibility of the government.
Sung Jung Gi
Clear Korean wine starts with Korean rice. The taste inherent to rice gains varied flavor and scent after maturing. The design concept of the standard bottle for traditional Korean wine, cheongju (clear rice wine), presented at this exhibition is ‘warmhearted and sentimental.’ The aim of this concept is to talk about one origin inherent in diversity and to feel the ‘warmth’ unique to the Korean people through tactile sense. To start designing the ‘standard bottle,’ we must first win ‘sympathy.’ Winning sympathy starts with finding one common basic element. The concept of ‘warmhearted and sentimental’ aspires to gain sympathy from the source of traditional Korean wine: rice. The shape and color of rice are important elements to build sympathy, and the shape and structure of rice seeds are a source of other shapes. The facts that we are so familiar with rice from consuming it every day and that rice seeds are the root for rice create sympathy, which is required for the standard bottle. There are many types of traditional clear Korean liquor, from strong liquor with high alcohol content to mild liquor with low alcohol content. A bottle designed according to the concept of being ‘warmhearted and sentimental’ can contain such diverse elements. ‘Warmhearted and sentimental’ is the name of the standard bottle, and this is meant to let holders of the bottle feel the essence of clear Korean liquor as they taste, smell, touch, and appreciate the liquor. Clear Korean wine starts with Korean rice, and the bottle labeled ‘Dajeong Dagam (“Warmhearted and sentimental”)’ will invite us to appreciate its clean taste and elegant flavor.
Eun Byung Soo
Makgeolli, traditional Korean wine, is like a bowl of rice, as it (makgeolli) makes us feel stronger and excited when consumed. It is completely unlike other liquors, which only make us drunk. I want to make a cup for makgeolli, most favored by ordinary people, in the most ordinary and simplest shape. Inside the cup we use when we drink are small expectations and a heart beating towards the world. If it were a beautiful plum blossom, it would be the most wonderful. It is a small luxury found in a small, simple thing. Sharing flowers blossoming in wine whether excessively or moderately depends on me. This is a small truth found in the ordinary.
Choi Joong Ho
Onggi jars used for fermentation are products of wisdom of the Koreans long ago. The jars presented at this exhibition are the result of exploration into new materials and shapes that would suit the modern lifestyle while serving the original function of fermentation. The fermentation vessels presented at this exhibition were produced with utmost care. They are no longer vessels for formation only that are kept in a backyard, but great looking tableware to be placed on the dinner table when entertaining guests, where the atmosphere of the original drinking culture of serving guests with hospitality is created. The lid of a fermentation vessel is shaped as a round dish. It blocks air in the fermentation process and can be used as a tray on which wine cups are placed, which is entirely appropriate for the refined wine table setting. The fermentation jar has a beautiful shape and was made of environment-friendly plastics, without compromising the function of a traditional double-walled earthenware onggi jar used for fermentation. The wood tray at the bottom prevents the liquor from being affected by changes in the temperature of the ground during the fermentation process, and can be naturally used as a tray when carrying wine from the jar to the wine table.
Do oh is regional dialectal word for dongi or hangari (meaning "jar"). Home brewery is an important part of the culture of Korea in a broad sense, and also an aspect of regional culture or family culture. I, therefore, decided to call this jar, which embodies home brewery culture and the characteristics of each region and family, do oh.
Hosted by Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation
Supported by Cartier, Eagon Windows & Doors Co, Korea Mecenat Association,
Arts Council Korea,
Park Kyung Mee
Chung So Young
Ko Jeong Ah, Nam Ji Hyun, Kim Hae Jin, Lee Jin A
The Cuisine Studio of ONJIUM
Cho Eun Hee, Park Sung Bae, Kang Chang Ki,
An Tae Yong, Sim Soo Jeong
Kwak Eun Jung, Kim Un Kyung, Shin Hye Sun, Jeong Eun Joo
Kang Soo Hyun
Text_Jeong Hye-gyeong, Her Si-Myung
Translation_Moon Soo Yul
English Proofreading_Oliver Williamson Jr.
Korean Proofreading_Lee Jin Hee
Photographs_Lee Jong Keun, Guru visual, Inc.
Design and Print_Appleis (Kang Hong-Seok)
Design Supervision_Park Kyung Mee
© Copyright 2015 by Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation All rights reserved.
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