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  Experiencing Korean culture through its food is one of the great joys for visitors to the both the peninsula and Korean restaurants around the world. Korean food’s diverse flavors and superb presentation come from the focus on balancing yin and yang, spicy and cool, sweet and salty. Its remarkable nutritional value reflects the Korean people’s firm belief that food is medicine. Korea is roughly the size of Greece, but incredibly, owing to the isolation caused by the mountainous environment, each region has unique specialty dishes, which use ingredients local to that area. The more you sample regional specialties, the more intriguing Korean food becomes. Luckily, you can explore Korean food without going too far, as Korea hosts a wide selection of food festivals throughout the year. Here are some events featuring traditional Korean food as well as a wide range of international cuisines.

  April
  Gyeongju Liquor and Rice Cake Festival
 

Gyeongju Liquor and Rice Cake Festival The Gyeongju Liquor and Rice Cake Festival celebrates its food heritage by showcasing liquor and rice cakes produced locally in regions around Korea. Korean liquor was used for ancestral rituals and to entertain special guests. Because of the effort required to make rice cakes, they were usually reserved for major holidays and special occasions. The festival is the perfect opportunity to sample these items and take more home with you.

As you make your way to the festival, don’t forget to stop into Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto. These two attractions are the most visited tourist sites in Gyeongju and are listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.

 
* Major programs: Exhibit of traditional liquor and rice cakes, creative rice cake competition, tteongme experience (using a rice-cake mallet used to pound steamed rice), sampling and sale of liquor and rice cakes, etc.
* Location: Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju-si, Hwangseong Park and surrounding areas
* More information
* Related news article: Gyeongju’s Liquor and Rice Cake Festival 2009
* Traditional Liquors and Wines
* Official site: http://www.fgf.or.kr (Korean)
  May
  Hadong Wild Tea Cultural Festival
  Hadong Wild Tea Cultural FestivalHadong has a long history as the site of Korea’s first tea plantation starting from about 1,200 years ago. Every May the Hadong Wild Tea Cultural Festival is held to promote the area’s historical tea culture and wild green tea. Depending on the conditions of the tea-picking season, the flavor of the tea can vary greatly. Festival visitors can get hands-on experience picking the tea and participating in the tea-making process. It is the best opportunity to taste and purchase high-quality Korean green tea.
 
* Major programs: Tea Ceremony at the site where the first green tea in Korea was planted. Tea seminar, hands-on experience at a green tea farm, wild green tea harvesting and roasting, auction of cheonnyeoncha, tea from a thousand-year old tree, tea etiquette competition, temple stay, mountain temple concert, etc.
* Location: Gyeongsangnam-do, Handong-gun, Hwagae-myeon, green tea field around Ssanggyesa Temple, and near Baengnyeon-ri kiln site in Jingyo-myeon
* More information
* Related column: The Hadong Wild Tea Cultural Festival: Working at a Green Tea Plantation
* Official site: http://festival.hadong.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
  September-October
  Geumsan Insam Ginseng Festival
  Geumsan Insam Ginseng FestivalKorean ginseng is internationally renowned for its health benefits. The Geumsan Insam Ginseng Festival is an excellent place to gain an appreciation for the miracle food and even take some home at affordable prices. Ginseng is used in a number of ways, and is often found in both Oriental medicine and a wide variety of dishes. At the festival, you will see several varieties of ginseng, experience ginseng-based health programs, and learn how to pick ginseng and select their seeds. The festival is held in Geumsan, Korea’s top ginseng producing region.
 
* Major programs: Religious service, health experience pavilion, ginseng picking, national ginseng food competition, ginseng seed selection, visit to traditional ginseng folk village, etc.
* Location: Chungcheongnam-do, Geumsan-gun, Geumsan Ginseng Pavilion Plaza and ginseng medicinal herb street, etc.
* More information
* Related column: A Visit to Geumsan for the Best Ginseng in Korea
* Official site: http://tour.geumsan.go.kr/ (Korean)
  Yangyang Songi Mushroom Festival
  Yangyang Songi Mushroom FestivalOnly found growing below mature pine trees, the songi mushroom (pronounced /song-i/ and known as pine mushroom in English) is so rare that it is often referred to as the “golden mushroom”. The town of Yangyang in Gangwon-do Province is well known for its songi mushrooms, which are known to be the best in the nation. The Yangyang Songi Mushroom Festival is held at sites where songi production is carefully managed. Visitors can view how these rare mushrooms grow in the wild and have the opportunity to pick them. A variety of uniquely flavored songi mushroom dishes are available for sampling.
 
* Major programs: Picking of songi, visit to songi site, cooking and sampling songi food, folk performances, etc.
* Location: Gangwon-do, Yangyang-gun, Namdaecheon and surrounding areas
* More information
* Official site: http://song-i.yangyang.go.kr/ (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
  Punggi Insam Ginseng Festival
  Punggi Insam Ginseng FestivalPunggi (pronounced /pung-gi/) is an area associated with the health benefits of its ginseng. In particular, Punggi ginseng is recognized for its outstanding effects on improving metabolism. At the Punggi Ginseng Festival, several fun and unique programs will be held to display these benefits, including ginseng massages, a ginseng sauna, and even a ginseng cutting competition. Punggi ginseng is grown in very fertile soil, resulting in strong texture and flavor that draws ginseng lovers from far and wide.
 
* Major programs: Exhibition comparing punggi ginseng with medicinal herbs from other countries, ginseng skin massage, punggi ginseng sauna, ginseng liquor bottle making, exhibit and sampling of ginseng food, ginseng cutting competition, ginseng cocktail making, etc.
* Location: Gyeongsangbuk-do, Yeongju-si, Punggi-eup, Namwoncheon and surrounding areas
* More information
* Related column: Finding Goryeo Ginseng
* Official site: http://www.ginsengfestival.com (Korean)
  Hoengseong Hanu Festival
  Hoengseong Hanu FestivalThe Hoengseong Hanu Festival is held to promote the excellent quality of Hoengseong hanu, a breed of cattle raised in Korea. Hoengseong’s hanu enjoys a nation-wide reputation for strict quality management. The highly prized meat with a tender texture and an excellent flavor is typically used in pricey beef dishes. However, visitors to the festival can taste a variety of hanu dishes at special prices as well as experience the rural farm culture that is unfamiliar to most city folks.
 
* Major programs: Hoengseong hanu Pavilion, hanu fair, restaurants specializing in Hoengseong hanu, exhibit and sale of Hoengseong hanu, visit to a stable, world cow photo exhibition, national ssireum (Korean wrestling) competition, street performance, etc.
* Location: Gangwon-do, Hoengseong-gun, Hoengseong-eup, Seomgang riverside and surrounding areas
* Official site: http://www.hshanu.or.kr (Korean)
  Icheon Rice Culture Festival
  Only the best rice would be served to the king, and Icheon’s rice has a long history as being the royal preference. Come and learn about Icheon rice and experience the agricultural lifestyle. The vast fields of Icheon have been known as a major rice production area for countless generations. That reputation exists to this day as it continues to produce the highest quality rice. Try Icheon rice cooked in a huge cauldron or watch the reenactment of a parade that transported rice to the king.
 
* Major programs: Harvest rituals, parade transporting rice to the king, rice performance, good harvest madanggeuk theatre, straw craft, threshing of rice, sampling of rice made in a cauldron, rice food competition, etc.
* Location: Gyeonggi-do, Icheon-si, Seolbong Park and its vicinity
* More information
* Official site:http://www.ricefestival.or.kr/ (Korean, English)
  Ganggyeong Fermented Seafood Festival
  Ganggyeong Fermented Seafood FestivalThe Ganggyeong Fermented Seafood Festival is held each year in Ganggyeong, the home of the nation’s largest fermented seafood market. At the festival, you will be able to experience the unique customs of a port town, which boasts over 200 years of tradition and is recognized for the quality of its outstanding jeotgal fermented using traditional methods. Come to the festival to sample a range of jeotgal dishes and experience kimchi making, too.
 
* Major programs: Exhibit of fermented foods, sampling of jeotgal and rice made in a cauldron, jeotgal food cooking competition, kimchi making, traditional games, etc.
* Location: Chungcheongnam-do, Nonsan-si, Ganggyeongpogu inlet, Jeotgal market, and Jeotgal Pavilion
* More information
* Official site: http://www.ggfestival.net (Korean)
  October-November
  Namdo Food Culture Festival
  Namdo Food Culture Festival At the Namdo Food Culture Festival, you can see and taste the foods of the 22 cities and towns that make up Jeollanam-do Province. Jeollanam-do is known nationally and beyond for its culinary delights. Gourmands will be pleased to find such an appealing assortment, including temple and health foods. The festival is held at the Naganeupseong Folk Village, where official buildings and private residences from the Joseon era (1392-1910) have been preserved in their original condition. Visitors will marvel at the history, uniqueness, and beauty of the village. Both the delicious food and the traditional music and games are sure to satisfy!
 
* Major programs: Exhibit and sale of Namdo food, Naganeupseong folk village visit, traditional games, kimchi making, cooking competition, Korean traditional music performances, etc.
* Location: Jeollanam-do, Suncheon-si, Naganeupseong folk village
* More information
* Official site: http://www.namdofood.or.kr (Korean)
  Gwangju Kimchi Cultural Festival
  Gwangju Kimchi Cultural FestivalCome and experience making Korean kimchi at the Gwangju Kimchi Cultural Festival. You will discover Korea’s unique kimchi tradition by learning how over twenty types of kimchi are made. In addition to trying the kimchi, you will also be able to sample various dishes that go well with it. The festival continues to draw an increasing number of foreign visitors as it offers a great chance to learn about the life, history, and culture of the Korean people.
 
* Major programs: Kimchi exhibition pavilion, kimchi industrial fair, kimchi fermentation science café, kimchi making demonstration, kimchi school, kimchi rice ball making, harvesting of Napa cabbage, etc.
* Location: Gwangju-si, Seo-gu, Gwangju World Cup Stadium and surrounding areas
* More information
* Related column: Kimchi, The Fundamental Korean Food / History of Kimchi
* Official site: http://kimchi.gwangju.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
  November
  Paju Jangdan Soybean Festival
  Paju Jangdan Soybean FestivalThe Paju Jangdan Soybean Festival is all about soybeans, a major source of protein for the Korean people. The festival is held in the Jangdan area (currently known as Paju), which has a long history as a major site of soybean production. Jangdankong soybeans have been selected as food for Korean kings as their fine quality and high nutritional value make them stand out above the soybeans from other regions. Come and sample the various foods that can be made from soybeans and learn how to make them yourself. Among these soybean products are several of Korea’s traditional fermented condiments collectively called jang, which include doenjang, ganjang, and gochujang.
 
* Major programs: Jangdankong Exhibition Pavilion, meju (fermented soybeans) making, jangdankong tofu making, threshing of beans, soybean rice cake making, etc.
* Location: Gyeonggi-do, Paju-si, Imjingak Plaza
* More information
* Official site: http://kong.paju.go.kr (Korean)
 




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