[Hallyupedia] Gotgam (곶감)

나확진 / 인턴 이효윤 / 2021-10-23 07:10:40
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by Ra Hwak Jin / Lee Hyo Yoon

[ENG] Peeled and dried persimmon

▲ This photo, provided by Sancheong-gun, shows gotgam, dried persimmon. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



Gotgam, also known as dried persimmon and Gunshi (translated) (乾枾) in Chinese character, is a peeled and dried fruit used in national holidays or for ancestral rites. Its name, Gotgam, is a conjunction of ‘got’ which means to stick something in a stick and the noun ‘gam’ is a Korean name for persimmon, according to Professor Jo Hang-bum of Korean Language and Literature of Chungbuk National University.

The name origins from its making process in which 10 ddaeng gams (translated) (persimmons not fully ripen) that taste rather bitter are peeled, stuck in a stick and are hung somewhere sunny and windy to naturally blow-dry them. But gotgams nowadays are hardly dried with sticks. As the fruits’ parts in contact with the stick lose their taste, these days people don’t get rid of the collected persimmons’ tip and dry them without a stick.



▲ This photo, taken on Oct. 18 2021, shows the villagers making ripen persimmons into gotgams at Sanju Dried Persimmon Park. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 


◇ According to documents from Joseon Dynasty, gotgams been used as gifts and for ancestral rites

While persimmons are recorded in a medical book from the Goryeo Dynasty, dried ones were not until the Joseon era. Gotgam was included in a list of gifts sent to China in 1682 (8th year of King Sukjong) and it is recorded to have been used as a seasonal food for Jongmyo jerye according to a book from the 19th century. ≪Domundaejak≫ explains that oshi (translated) from the Jiri Mountain makes a good gotgam. Oshi is a persimmon that has been oxidized and turned black.

Gotgams can be made into ssams as well by wrapping chestnuts in them. These ssams are also the main ingredient for sujeonggwa (persimmon punch). Gotgams have been given to guests as refreshments and treats for the elderly or children. Gotgam is a must-include food in table for ancestral rites as well. They are well-used as gifts during the Chuseok holidays.


▲ This photo, provided by Sangju City, shows a baske tof Sangju Gotgam. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



◇ Familiar in Korean folk tales

Gotgam is familiar to Koreans as there is a famous Korean folk tale about it. One day, a tiger enters a folk village. A child keeps crying even when his mother tells him, “If you don’t stop crying, a tiger will come and get you.” But he stops crying when his mother says, “Here’s a gotgam.” Hearing this, the tiger thinks that gotgam is a more fearful thing than he is.

There are similar stories in China and Japan too, although the others are about a tiger thinking that there is something scarier than him hearing a villager worrying about rain leaking from the roof.

Also, this dried fruit frequently appears in idioms such as “As if eating out gotgams from a gotgam stick” (translated) which means to eat away one’s savings and “The gotgam is too sweet to eat now” (translated) which warns the danger of one’s hastily made decision.


▲ This photo, provided by Sangju City, shows a preschool child eating a gotgam at 2018 Goryeong Daegaya Festival. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ Drying persimmons as a tour theme

Sangju City of North Gyeongsang Proivnce arranged Sangju Dried Persimmon Park investing 10 billion won of budget in 2011. The park includes various tour spots such as Sangju Gotgam Historical Exhibition hall, Gotgam theme exhibition experience and a track to go for a walk. Korea’s oldest persimmon tree stands near the park. Also, “Yeon-ji’s House” (translated) built with the tiger and the gotgam story as a motive, hangs persimmons to make gotgams every year which is used as a photo spot.



▲ This photo, provided by Sangju City, shows Sanju Dried Persimmon Park. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ Kim Jung-sook First Lady known to have served gotgams

President Moon Jae-in’s wife Kim Jung-sook First Lady was printed on the news for having served self-made gotgams as refreshments when former US President Donald Trump visited South Korea in November 2017, the first year of President Moon. It is said that Lady Kim made the gotgams with persimmons collected from the persimmon tree planted in Chungwadae and hung them under the eaves to dry. Lady Kim also gave the self-made gotgams to the Chungwadae staff, single mothers’ organization and accredited journalists at the time.



▲ This photo is a gotgam refreshment prepared by First Lady Kim Jung-sook of President Moon Jae-in. The tea set was prepared for former US President Donald Trump in 2017. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 





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