Gyeonggi-do Province is part of Seoul Metropolitan area and it encompasses a total of 31 administrative units which are often referred to as "satellite cities" of Korea's capital, Seoul. Due to the country's convenient transportation system and numerous subway connections, visiting some of those cities for a day trip is rather easy which makes the province a preferred destination for many foreigners eager to explore Korea's hidden gems. Let's take a look at some of the representative sightseeing locations in the area!
Located south of Seoul, Suwon is the largest city in Gyeonggi-do Province. It is connected with the capital via three subway lines, namely Line 1, Suin-Bundang Line, and Sinbundang Line. The most famous attraction the city is known for is Hwaseong Fortress which stretches throughout a larger part of the city. It is a must-visit for expats fond of history as it has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage since 1997. The legendary fortress was constructed during the Joseon period (1392-1910) and it is the legacy of King Jeongjo, son of the controversial Crown Prince Sado, who initiated the massive project to clear the name of his father. Suwon is also home to a temporary palace also dating back to the Joseon dynasty. If you are interested in K-drama, you might recognize this place from the hit series "Rooftop Prince".
Suwon Nammun Market
Other interesting sightseeing locations in Suwon include Suwon Nammun Market which has already marked excellent results in a survey on the popularity among foreign tourists conducted by the Korea Tourism Organization in 2018. Carrying on a 220-year tradition, it is the only market created by a king in Korean history, and it is a venue where the dreams of King Jeongjo and the dreams of Suwon citizens intertwine in the spirit of trade. The aforementioned survey was conducted based on a total of seven indicators including hard infrastructure such as physical environment and accessibility, soft infrastructures such as financing, information about shopping and food, publicity, and operating system.
Suwon Nammun Market stood out by ranking 3rd in the results of a survey among foreign tourists and 4th in the results of a survey among experts out of 22 representative traditional markets selected by the Korea Tourism Organization in 2018. In winter, the season when people crave steaming hot food, Suwon is a great place to enjoy a variety of meals without having to travel far. For example, the city's traditional market alley restaurants such as "Hanyang Sundae" in Ji-dong Market, "Joseon Twisted Bread Sticks" in Minarigwang Market, and "Jangang Whole Chicken" at Whole Chicken Street, are suitable for a gourmet tour.
"Hanyang Sundae" in Sundae Town, Ji-dong Market
Ji-dong Market is famous for its Sundae Town which is frequently introduced in various TV shows and newspapers. Consequently, many foreign tourists visit the location, too. Sundae is traditional Korean food that might be unfamiliar to foreigners, but in certain ways, it is quite similar to a representative British dish called "black pudding" which is a black sausage made with pork blood, oatmeal, or barley.
It is known as the oldest type of pudding in England, and it was developed under the influence of the Greeks and Romans, who made sausages with hardened animal blood. Thinly sliced and crispy, black pudding is commonly served at breakfast in London, England.
On the other hand, the origin of the Korean sundae is unknown, but the dish is believed to have spread to Korea at the time of the Mongolian invasions during the Goryeo period. There are also theories that it started as a method of storing food coming from the fact that the army of Genghis Khan of Mongolia stored food in pig intestines to consume on its quests. Over the years, Korean sundae developed in various ways depending on their ingredients.
Sundae is usually made with pig intestines, but in some cases, fish can also be the main ingredient. For example, in Hamgyeong Province where pollack fishing is prevalent, sundae is also made using this fish. In particular, dongtaesundae is made by pickling pollack overnight, removing its intestines through the mouth, then stuffing its stomach, stitching its mouth, freezing the pollack, then steaming it, and eating it dipped in vinegar. Moreover, in Gangwon-do, there is a squid sundae that is consumed boiled or steamed after stuffing the body of a squid and sewing it with a thread.
The sundae sold in "Hanyang Sundae", located in Ji-dong Market, boasts a chewy yet savory taste as it is made with glass noodles. It can be enjoyed with pork intestines that are generously served here, making the restaurant a hot spot for sundae enthusiasts. Another popular dish in Sundae Town of Ji-dong is sundae tripe stir-fry which is sold cheaply and in large portions. Its base is pepper paste, a basic Korean hot sauce, so the spicy taste of fried rice mixed with soup after the meal is excellent. Foreigners who like the taste of black pudding should try it at least once.
지동순대타운 Sundae Town in Ji-dong Market
Address: 경기 수원시 팔달구 지동 402-2 Gyeonggi-do Province Suwon-si Paldal-gu Ji-dong 402-2
"Joseon Twisted Bread Sticks" in Minarigwang Traditional Market
Minarigwang Market is a traditional market famous for a variety of vegetables and fresh fish. Upon arrival, visitors get a strong impression that they have truly come to a traditional Korean market. The products sold here are so diverse that Korean housewives can solve the problems of preparing various side dishes in one visit. The representative food of Minarigwang Market is twisted sweet rice bread. Among the shops offering this, "Joseon Twisted Bread Sticks" with its distinct chewy taste, is located in the corner of the market.
It is a long-established store in which visitors can try twisted breadsticks, a Korean-style donut the dough of which is made with know-how accumulated over a lengthy period of time so that it doesn't taste dry. Lightly sprinkled sugar is also typically used in Korean twisted breadsticks. The moment you try this food once, a tiny voice in your head tells you to give up on dieting and suddenly, you can't stop eating!
조선꽈배기 Joseon Twisted Bread Sticks
Address: 경기 수원시 영통구 하동 968-6 1층 Gyeonggi-do Province Suwon-si Yeongtong-gu Ha-dong 968-6 1 Floor
"Jangang Whole Chicken" at Nammun Whole Chicken Street in Suwon
When asked what some of Suwon's famous dishes are, Koreans would pick whole chicken right after king ribs. Therefore, Whole Chicken Street in Nammun Market near Namsu-gyo Bridge is a popular food spot in Suwon that is known among people of all ages and has been receiving a lot of attention from the media for the last 4-5 years. It sells a variety of fried chicken, from whole chicken fried in a cauldron to sweet and sour chicken, fried chicken, and seasoned chicken. This street in Suwon is famous as the birthplace of Korean K-chicken. Even before chicken became the representative Korean product that it is now, Suwon Whole Chicken Street has been considered the cradle of K-chicken for over 60 years.
Traditionally, Korean soul food is a whole chicken wrapped in newspapers brought by one's father and this chicken street caters to this stereotype. Whole chicken and regular chicken might sound like the same food, but they are slightly different. Namely, a whole chicken is an authentic Korean dish referring to cauldron-cooked chicken that many Koreans eat with their families when they are young, which emphasizes its originality. Thanks to "Jangan Whole Chicken", a restaurant at Suwon Whole Chicken Street, it is hard to forget the taste of the whole chicken one has had as a child, so the place continues to be visited even by Koreans who have passed the middle age.
The reason this restaurant is famous is that it serves whole chicken as well as fried chicken gizzards and feet at a low price. Eating fried chicken gizzards might seem strange to foreigners, but once you experience it, your opinion will change. The moment you taste it and chew it, you can feel various flavors rushing in. In addition, crispy fried chicken dipped in salt is chewy and tasty, while the sweet and sour seasoned chicken is also a must-try delicacy. In Suwon, you should try a whole chicken even if you skip the king ribs.
장안통닭 Jangang Whole Chicken
Address: 경기 수원시 팔달구 남수동 114-3 Gyeonggi-do Province Suwon-si Paldal-gu Namsu-dong 114-3
Along with its three traditional market restaurants as the essentials for an unforgettable foodie trip, Suwon is a must-visit destination in Korea. The winter weather here is quite cold, but delicious food eaten outside warms the body and mind, which Koreans love. This way, you can understand the romance of winter. If you are planning a trip around Korea this winter, it is a wise choice to go to Suwon's traditional markets as you can easily visit Suwon with friends and family by subway. We hope that our recommendations for meals and desserts will help you create precious memories with your loved ones.
CREATE YOUR KOREA
Author: Margarita Kichukova
Editor: Yousra Feriel Drioua
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