|▲ Sunmi Hangwa / CEO Sunglae Kim|
Han-gwa is traditional Korean sweets and cookies Korean people have enjoyed since 7th century. Recently, the tvN’s variety show Friday Joy Package broadcast Moraenae Han-gwa Village in Sacheon, Gangneung City, where 50 local han-gwa makers are clustered. In the show, actor singer Seunggi Lee paid a visit and tried making han-gwa and it made the village a hot spot to visit.
Opened business in the village in 2001, Sunmi Hangwa is famous for making Korean sweets and cookies in a unique way. Han-gwa in Gangneung is known to have tenderer texture than other regions. Sunmi Hangwa differentiates its uniqueness by using ‘backok chalgwa’ that contains no additives and by making all of them with hands. The dough is made with Korean bean water and is increased for 4 hours at the 50 year old cast iron pot. The sticky rice dough then gets flatten, dried under the natural sun, leavened the whole lump and added 100% corn syrup. As a result, Sunmi Hangwa has tenderer and deeper taste even in the Gangneung region.
Coffee han-gwa, grape han-gwa and medicinal cookies
CEO Sunglae Kim obtained a master’s degree in automotive IT and worked at a conglomerate as a researcher. Like a young CEO, he imbued fresh ideas in the product lines and introduced catchy menus: coffee han-gwa, grape han-gwa and medicinal cookies alongside a new concept ‘han-gwa café’. He also improved package design and started to use eco-friendly tray paper to meet sophisticated eyes and tastes of consumers. Coffee han-gwa in particular is the result of cooperation with Wonju National University and the Gangneung Science & Industry Promotion Agency. The coffee bean used is Ethiopian that has smooth acidity and excellent balance. CEO Kim said that young people are the main target for coffee han-gwa and he had seen the sales doubled in 2018 and tripled in 2019 compared to the year 2017.
Increasing sales and going global
Han-gwa is normally enjoyed by older generations and the sales are mostly made during the national holiday seasons. In order to turn this short sales cycle to a whole year round sales, CEO Kim has poured a considerable amount of time and effort in design, marketing and channels for export. As part of this endeavor, he currently has applied for three patients, another two for design and nine for trademarks. He already has obtained a women enterprise certificate and Gwanwon Province agricultural and fishery products certificate while working on HACCP, tradition products and 6th industry certificates at the moment. In addition, he is looking for channels of export to Guam US, Ho Chi Minh Vietnam and Jakarta Indonesia.
Spreading excellence of Korean sweets and cookies
The taste and look of Sunmi Hangwa are now widely recognized and CEO Kim succeeded listing its name in the Korea Best New Product Awards and the Korea Brand Preference Award. Taking the momentum, he is ambitious to push forward the business with more creative ideas.
Kim said “I need machines customized to han-gwa making in order to standardize the making process and to improve productivity. It is my goal to spread traditional Korean sweets and cookies to the world over Korea so that more people can enjoy the excellent taste and look of our unique snacks.”