Ulleung Son Kongchi
In the past, the sea near Ulleung Island was famous for an abundance of saury fish. In the late spring period, fishermen would even say that because of the flood of sauries, it was difficult to catch other fish species. Ulleung son kongchi refers to the fish caught using a traditional method of the Ulleung people in which the fish are caught by hand from a raft. Every May, sauries come to the area of the sea near Ulleung Island to lay their eggs. When the fish are gathered together inside seaweed to lay their eggs, a fisherman in a raft can catch the fish by hand. Sauries caught using this method are known for their exceptional taste due to the fact that the fish are fattier in the breeding season and experience lower stress due to being caught without a fishing rod and hook or using a net. Shortly after being caught, the sauries are often used to make a salted fish sauce, which is commonly used in the preparation of local dishes or as a side dish itself. Furthermore, hand caught saury is used in other local recipes such as mul-hoe (cold raw fish soup) and ddeok-guk (rice cake soup). In an area where livestock was rare, saury fish provided an excellent local source of protein. Even just a few years ago, sauries were caught in great quantities near Ulleung Island, but fishing has dramatically decreased because of an overall decrease in this fishery in the area. In fact, now saury consumed in mainland Korea is mainly imported. In particular, the trend has been felt heavily on Ulleung Island, and so few sauries are still hand caught following this traditional, more sustainable fishing method today. More research is needed to understand the status of the saury fishery in the area to know if this artisanal fishing method will be lost for good due to the decline in the local the fish population.