|▲ Myeonchun Doogyeon Ju Preservation Society / President Hyunkil Kim|
Myeonchun Doogyeon Ju and a 1,100 year old ginko tree in Seongsang-ri, Myeongcheon-myeon, Dangjin City has this story: a Goryeo Kingdom founding contributor Jigyeom Bok got ill and prayed for 100 days on the Ami Mountain; a Taoist hermit appeared on the last day and told him to make doogyeon ju (liquor) and plant a ginko tree there to heel the illness; when he had done, the words were fulfilled. The ginko tree is National Monument 551 and Myeonchun Doogyeon Ju is National Intangible Cultural Asset 86-2.
The liquor is Korea’s first traditional liquor made with flowers and/or plants and has a thousand years of history. It proudly served Pope Francis when he visited South Korea for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Andrew Taegon Kim in 2014 and also used at the historic 2018 Inter Korean Summit.
Myeonchun Doogyeon Ju once faced a crisis 15 years ago when the master craft man Seunggyu Park passed away. 16 residents then gathered their strength to launch the Myeonchun Doogyeon Ju Preservation Society and started resuming the production from 2007. As a result, the society has become the first crafts association that has no master crafts men.
The office of the society is nestled on a foot of the Ami Mountain famous for azalea. Myeonchun Doogyeon Ju is made with this flower in abundance and sticky rice, yeast and water. It goes 80 days of low temperature fermentation and a further 20 days after scooping away the clean rice wine. The balance is very important as too much flower gives bitterness and too less causes lack of flavor. All ingredients are locally produced.
Azalea is often used for medicine and known to be good for coughing, high blood pressure, spitting blood, menstrual irregularity and asthma; and also neuralgia, feeling of cold and rheumatism according to Kyungpook National University food processing professor.
Alcohol is a little higher than soju but it gives a sense of smooth swallowing. The Myeonchun Doogyeon Ju Preservation Society runs a making program of the liquor every first Saturday of the month and students of all grades are enjoying the experience, says Hyunkil Kim, the president of the society.
The best season to join the program is spring where azalea blooms in full. Make note that in April, the county holds Myeonchun Azalea Festival.
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