Northern Seoul – “Rice wine, Monks, and Sheep”

 

wierd koreaThank you to Chris Backe for sharing one of his Seoul Itineraries with us from his book, Weird and Wonderful Korea

Welcome to Korea! An introduction: South Korea – home of soju, kimchi, and love motels. Presented here are the weird and wonderful parts of Korea – the places that tourists rarely reach and even locals don’t know much about. Read this for the real stories and histories behind some of Korea’s most unusual and fascinating destinations.

Itinerary #1: Northern Seoul – “Rice wine, Monks, and Sheep”

Baedari Brewery – the museum of rice wine Stars: ***

Baedari Brewery has been brewing makgeolli (rice wine), jukyoju (a clearer and more potent rice wine) and soju (Korean fire-water) since 1915. In 1974, Goyang makgeolli was sent to Pyeongyang for the first inter-Korean summit. This museum, dedicated to the brewery’s history, was founded in 2004, and today the fifth generation continues the legacy. Although Baedari continues to produce alcohol, you won’t see it at every corner store. While this particular museum / brewery doesn’t offer taste tests or samples, plenty of offerings exist in the restaurant. Start by entering the main building and appreciating the first few simple exhibits – the majority of the collection is upstairs on the second floor.

A dim light seems appropriate for the dated items that once assisted in the manufacturing of fermented rice wine (known as

막걸리, or makgeolli) and soju. The technology these days is much better of course, but looking at over 90 years of history has its merits as well. They have the wear and tear expected of items used in an industrial setting on a daily basis. Some are simply displays, while other exhibits are models describing the different processes of making rice wine – unfortunately, nothing is in English for the foreign visitor or tourist. Try reading the descriptions if your Korean is good or a Korean friend is with you.

Once you’re finished with the museum, there’s Korean food

(including 김치전, kim-chi jeon, kimchi pancakes, 12,000 won) and locally-brewed makgeolli (3,000-6,000 won per

glass) downstairs. While the typical makgeolli is fine, give the 천년초 막거리 (cheon- nyeon-cho mak-keo-li, or cactus makgeolli) a try. It’s a little pinker and sweeter. There is some irony that you’ll only get by reading the bottle’s labels – Baedari’s cheap but ‘traditional’ makgeolli contains wheat from the US, as well as aspartame. The premium- labeled glass bottles, meanwhile, use organic rice.

Name: Baedari Brewery (배다리 박물관) Address: Gyeonggi-do, Goyang-si, Deokyang-gu, Seongsa-dong, 470-1

Korean address: 경기도 고양시 덕양구 성사 1 동 470-1 Directions: Use the Seoul subway system to get to Wondang station, line 3, exit 6. Cross the street and walk about 500 meters. Look to the right – the building is fairly easy to spot. Hours: 10am-6pm (weekdays) 10am-7pm (weekends) Admission: free (food and drinks are comparably priced to local restaurants) Phone: 031-967-8052 Website: http://www.baedari.co.kr

About the Author: Chris Backe blogs about travel and life at Chris in South Korea and Chris in Thailand. He’s been published numerous times across Korea, including Groove Magazine, 10 Magazine, Busan Haps, The East (based in England), and visitseoul.netWeird and Wonderful Korea is his fourth book –Octopus Formality, a book full of Konglish, was his third, while Korean Made Easy was his second. He doesn’t talk about his first book. He’s currently living in Thailand researching the most unusual destinations in the country.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip.  http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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