Before I go into describing my amazing trip to Seosan over the last weekend, I would like to thank Funday Korea Networks for giving such a wonderful opportunity for foreigners to experience Korean Culture and also thank Seosan city for sponsoring our trip to their beautiful city.
If you wish to explore hidden gems of Korea as well as experience Korean Culture at it’s best, you can do so by registering for an event organized by Funday Korea here:
To know more about Seosan city, go to:
Seosan Day-1 (서산 첫날)
Started from Sports Complex at 8:30 in the morning. 🌄
It takes about 3 hours to Seosan so reached there by 11:30 AM.
Our first stop was Haemieupseong Fortress.
A vision executed by King Taejeong in 1417AD, it took about 5 years to complete the construction. It was designated Korea’s Historical site no. 116 in 1963 and since then has considered a must visit historical castle in Korea.
Originally built to ward off Japanese pirates, the place had been through some dark times. But before going into that let’s look at some interesting history. Admiral Yi Sun-Shin (yes that wise old person on a 100￦ coin!) served for 10 months as the military officer at this very fortress. Records say that he was an ardent and admirable officer who wouldn’t back down from fighting against injustice even if committed by his superiors and was ever so disciplined that he was never seen with a hair out of place.
Coming to the dark past, this place was a part of Donghak rebellion in 1864 and during the height of spread of Christianity by French Preists in 1866, thousands of Catholics were executed here.
Today, the fortress is an open place where a number of festivals are held throughout the year. The biggest one is called the Haemifest which happens in Autumn every year. The fest celebrates the culture and history of the fortress with a theme of Joseon Dynasty and hosts an open market where local delicacies are served. Families flock here with their kids who take part in Kite flying.
Traditional Korean Snack Making Experience (생강한과 만들기 체험):
Our next stop for the day was an experience making the delicacy of Seosan i.e, the Ginger Hangwa. Gangjeong is a hangwa or a traditional Korean snack made with glutinous rice flour. The rice flour goes through a complicated process of making a batter, steaming it, cutting it into 2 inch size bits and drying them. These are then fried twice at two different temperatures to rise upto 3 times their size into crispy on the outside and hollow on the inside rice puffs. The fried treats are then dipped and submerged in hot sugar or honey syrup and once coated completely are covered in seeds, pollen or spice powders. The hangwa of Seosan however included a very special ingredient in the sugar syrup. It was none other than the specialty of Seosan, the very indigenous Korean Ginger in a paste form.
To make this mouth-watering snack, our large group of 30 was divided into smaller ones of 6, each assigned to a station. We all set out to add ginger paste to our sugar syrup and dipping the crisps in the syrup, then coating them in pollen. We loved the snack so much that we had it hot right out of the tray. We also stole some ginger paste from stations around us to make the snack extra gingery. Our instructor generously let each of us pack Hangwa enough for our entire trip.
After visiting the fortress and feasting on tasty handmade snacks as well as a hearty lunch at a Korean buffet restaurant we set of to see the Mysterious Hermitage of Ganwol-do. The island is a nature’s wonder, the path to which opens up during a low tide and is submerged in sea during high tide. There is a temple on the island which was built under King Taejo’s rule during the Joseon dynasty. The name Ganwolam mean “Look at the Moon” in Korean. The story behind the name is quite interesting. When the court priest Muhak visited the island, he drew inspiration from the moon during his stay and thereby decided to name it Ganwolam. The road leading up to the island is surrounded by seafood restaurants where freshly caught oysters and crab are cooked or served raw. These places also serve local delicacies like the Cheonggukjjang.
After having a scrumptious dinner of stone pot rice (돌솥밥) with soy bean paste stew (된장찌개).
Having a height of 180 meters, the peak of Oknyeobong is not that high but is worshiped by citizens as the epicenter of Seosan city. An event held here every year, draws people who pray for the Peace and Prosperity of the city. It was also a place where people prayed, and rain danced to overcome drought.