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By Way of Korea

South Korea   |   New York

A Korean food blog and travelogue inspired by

an epicurious New Yorker's journey around South Korea


By Way of Korea: Essential Seollnal Foods - Ddukguk & Jeon (Tongin Market, Seoul)

Updated: May 15, 2019

Another year older (and hopefully wiser) as defined by the tradition of eating a bowl of ddukguk on Lunar New Year. Today's post features two of my favorite Seollnal foods: jeon and ddukguk. Happy (belated) Seol, y'all!


While exploring Korean markets, I learned that there is truly no shortage of things that can be dipped in eggwash and fried to make jeon. Even so, of these things, heopa (lung) caught me and Youn by surprise during our rounds at Tongin Market. An assortment of rectangular and triangular pieces of dark meat fried in eggwash identified by a red “Seochon heopa jeon“ (서촌허파전) sign stood out among a variety of jeon on display. After sampling a piece, we bought a styrofoam container full of heopa jeon and took to the streets, where we stood and finished all save a couple of pieces. It’s become one of my favorite kinds of jeon, which include the kkochi-jeon more commonly found on the Seollnal table.


Though its exact origin remains unknown, the tradition of eating ddukguk on Seollnal is documented in definitive texts such as the Dongguk Saesigi and the Yeoryang Saesigi ㅡ two 19th century books detailing Korea’s annual traditions and customs. Dduk represents longevity and eating a bowl of soup full of them on the first day of the new year signifies that you’ve aged another year. Historically, pheasant (꿩) was the choice game for the broth, making it a delicacy enjoyed on special occasions; the common people used chicken, beef, or other more accessible alternatives.



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"If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel - as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them - wherever you go."

Anthony Bourdain's unmatched relish for adventure and humble approach to food, cultures, and humanity left an indelible impression on my younger self. Imparting on me the courage to veer into the unknown, he inspired me to embrace my vulnerabilities and seek adventures and growth beyond the comforts of home.


In July of 2017, I boarded a one-way flight to Seoul, South Korea. Within the first week of arrival, I signed a lease for an apartment and by the end of August, I had accepted a job offer that relocated me to Pyeongchang and Gangneung, where the Winter Olympics were soon to be held. From there, I had the rare opportunity to explore much of the greater Gangwon Province's beautiful mountainous and coastal regions and their distinctive foods. Once or twice a month, I'd return to Seoul or travel to an unfamiliar region to poke around alleyways, markets, and mountains in search of more good eats and adventures.


By Way of Korea is a storytelling project inspired by the food, places, and faces I encountered throughout Korea. By sharing my fondest memories, notes, and images of Korea, I simply hope to play a small part in piquing greater curiosity about Korean food and culture in my readers.  My content will heavily spotlight, but not be limited to Korean food and culture. 

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