Ark of taste
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Gam-hongro is a traditional Korean alcohol that was originally produced in the Pyongyang area of modern-day North Korea, though since the Korean War production was interrupted. It has since shifted to the area of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, an area where many Korean War refugees settled that is also known for its high quality water. The name gam-hongro is made of the words gam, meaning “sweet” (?), hong meaning “red” (?) and ro meaning “dew” (?). The drink is made from local, non-glutinous millet, sticky sorghum and rice, using local yeast. It has a sweet taste and smooth aroma, with a lingering flavor in the mouth. The liquor’s taste is said to improve with aging.   Gam-hongro was the first soju (distilled liquor) that was introduced from Mongolia during the Koryo Dynasty. It was part of the celebration of Hansik Day, in which the table is set for ancestors with high quality alcohol. The liquor is mentioned in literature dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. The famous Korean poem Aeryunjeong by Yu Deuk-gong, contains the line: ‘Everywhere we can find gam-hongro, so this village is getting drunk.’ And in Byeol-Ju-Bu-Jeon (a traditional story about a rabbit and a turtle), the turtle tries to tempt the rabbit by saying ‘you can drink gam-hongro at the sea god’s palace.’   Today, gam-hongro is sold in some department stores, liquor stores and local restaurants. However, this liquor’s future is uncertain due to the difficulty in obtaining the primary materials of its production, particularly the local wheat, which provides the source of local yeast, and non-glutinous millet.

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StateSouth Korea