by - May 04, 2018

I am so excited to share my experience at the 장계향문화체험교육원 (JangGyehyang Culture Experience Center) in Gyeongsangbuk-do Yeongyang with you. This center is dedicated to Lady Jang Gye-Hyang 장계향 (1598-1680), the first person to write a cook book in the Korean language. It contains 146 recipes of various Korean food and wine (many of which were her own recipes), in addition to how to store and prepare food to table settings. This is significant since most cooking records were copies of Chinese cookbooks written by men at the time. She was also known as a poet and philanthropist. She was the only daughter of Jang Heung-Hyo, a famous scholar from Andong that she learned from. Eumsil Dimibang Center is located in Yeongyang, DoDeul Village where she was married at the age of 19 to one of her father's students and lived most of her life well into the 80s. Her recipes and traditions are preserved by her descendants and now the center is run by her 13th generation daughter in law, Lady Jo Gwee-Bun.

The first thing we did was the tour of DoDeul Village and it was one of the most peaceful and cozy hanok villages I've visited. We heard stories of how Lady Jang Gye-Hyang was generous to the poor and caring to her servants, and her dedication to raising 10 children (2 of them were step children from her husband's first marriage) who loved and adored her. I believe her warmth and noble character are also passed down as well as the valuable records of traditional Korean recipes of food and wine in this place. 

There is also a book cafe dedicated to a famous writer, Yi Mun Yol who is also one of the descendants of Lady Jang Gye-Hyang. They are definitely a family of scholars. 

Eumsik Dimibang Traditional Food and Wine Experience Center offers various hands on programs and hanok stay for the ultimate cultural experience. You can make reservations for these programs online:  Here are the four main programs I participated in.

1. Tea Ceremony- you will learn how to prepare tea and tea drinking etiquette

2. Eumsik Dimibang Cooking Class- you will learn how to cook one of the recipes from the Eumsik Dimibang Cook Book taught by Lady Jo Gwee-Bun herself! We learned to cook one of the dumplings called Suk Ryu Tang (석류탕).

👆 is teacher's and 👇 is ours. 😅

There is also a small museum of Lady Jang GyeHyang and her artifacts you can view before/after the cooking class where you can learn more about her.

3. Eumsik Dimibang Meal (35,000-55,000 won per person)- prepared meal from the Eumsik Dimibang Cook Book recipes the traditional way. Of course all the food was prepared using natural ingredients, so it tasted very light and healthy. It was definitely different from what modern Korean food that I am used to. First of all, there is nothing spicy since red peppers didn't come into Korea until 1700 and there were no noodles in JapChae since starch based noodles that we use today in JapChae is Chinese influenced. Most Korean noodles were made from beans and buckwheat. 

4. Traditional Wine Making Class- you get to learn the wine making history and process. Most of Korean wine are made from rice. You also get to make one and bring home a bottle. You have to ferment for about 30 days before you can drink it though. We also had a tasting and it was so yummy!

Yeongyang also has many tourist attractions. Here are a few places I visited. 

1. Five-storied Stone Pagoda (오층모전석탑) probably over 1,000 years old. Standing in the middle of a beautiful field surrounded by mountains and rivers. 

2. Suh Seok Ji (서석지) a hanok house with a beautiful garden. I want to live in this house! 

3. Son Ba Wee (선바위): Park with a rock cliff and river view. There is also a store where you can purchase local products such as red pepper flakes, various dried veggies, and rice wine. 

Where we ate: 
Hanul Garden (한울가든) and JangWon (장원) are right across from each other and if you have to pick one place, I would recommend JangWon since you can taste various fresh local green veggies from Yeongyang.

How to get there:
Yeongyang is located about 4 hours drive southeast from Seoul in Gyeongsangbuk-do. There are no direct bus from Seoul. You have to take a train or bus and transfer from Andong. Therefore, it's easiest to drive or come with a tour company. If you drive, just enter 음식디미방 전통주 체험관 on navigation. Although it's hard to get to, it's definitely worth the trip if you are interested in food, culture and history. I highly recommend it for a girls trip, or mother and daughter trip, or couple gateway trip and maybe even stop by 👉 Andong, the birth place of Lady Jang GyeHyang on the way for a complete Korean culture experience.

*This trip was sponsored by Korea Tourism Organization.

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