[Hallyupedia] Gwamegi (과메기)

나확진 / 인턴 이효윤 / 2021-11-07 09:00:17
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by Ra Hwak Jin / Lee Hyo Yoon

[ENG] Herring or Pacific saury dried by ocean wind

▲ This photo shows Pacific saury gwamegies getting dried at a seaside of Guryonpo-eup, Pohang City, North Gyeongsang Provinc on Nov. 3 2021.  (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 
▲ This photo shows Pacific people eating gwamegi (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Gwamegi is a herring or a Pacific saury frozen and melt repetitively than dried by ocean wind and is a special winter food. 


A gwamegi dipped in red chili-pepper paste with vinegar and wrapped up in seaweed or gim with a chive or a garlic becomes a perfect side dish for a drink.


Its name originated from ‘gwanmok’ which means a Pacific saury dried with its eye stuck on a stick, according to the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture of the Academy of Korean Studies. But there are claims that such explanation is incorrect.

The Korea University Korean Dictionary introduces gwamegi is a North Gyeongsang Province dialect. But, as the food initiated from the North Gyeongsang Province spread out to the whole country, we can say that ‘gwamegi’ became a standard term.


▲ This photo shows a worker drying Pacific saury at a seaside of Guryonpo-eup, Pohang City, North Gyeongsang Provinc on Nov. 3 2021.  (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ Gwamegi today mostly made with Pacific saury

Gwamegi is usually produced in winter in the east coast area including Pohang. The process starts in the end of October and goes on through the whole winter.

At first, they were mostly made with herrings but as the fish’s population decreased, today’s gwaemgies are usually Pacific sauries.

Making pacific saury gwamegis can be seen a lot at Guryongp-eup in the Southern side of Pohang City and along the coasts of Janggi-myeon and Homigot-myeon.

These places are called a ‘dukjang.’


▲ This photo shows the traditional tongmali gwamegi hanging at Guryongpo-eup, Pohang City on Dec, 22 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

There two kinds of gwamegis – the traditional tongmali and baejigi gwamegi. The traditional one that doesn’t get rid of the insides of the Pacific saury and tie them together with a string to dry. A baejigi gwamegi has its insides, bones and head off.

Tongmali gwamegies take about 15 days, baejigi gwamegies take about 3~4 days to produce.

As both consumers and producers prefer baejigies in that they don’t need to be done anything more and take shorter to make, today’s gwamegies are mostly baejigies.


▲ This photo shows Pacific saury gwamegies getting dried at a seaside of Guryongpo-eup in Pohang City, North Gyeongsang Province on Nov. 3 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ Pohang Guryongpo holds gwamegi festival every November

Gwamegi festival takes place every November in Pohang Guryongpo.

The Guryongpo-eup of Pohang City produces about 90% of gwamegies produced in Korea, according to the city. The amount of their annual gwamegies is up to 3~4 thousand ton.

Their gwamegi manufacturers were about 200 places in 2018 and about 40 of them are known to be equipped with modern facilities.

Although, the 2019 festival couldn’t take place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is reviewing whether to hold this year’s festival.

Guryongpo is the background of the recent popular series, “Hometown Cha Cha Cha.”

▲ This photo shows gwamegies cut for the dish(PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



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