|▲ Uiryeong Mangae Tteok / CEO Kim Dong-heok|
(PowerKorea) Uiryeong County, South Gyeongsang Province, is where Red Robe General Gwak Jae-u raised a righteous army on invasion of Japan. The spirit passed down to independent activists during the colonial era and they carried rice cake wrapped in a mangae (berchemia) leaf to eat time to time. The leaf contains enzyme that prevents decay of food. For this reason, our ancestors used mangae leaves to prevent soy source and soy bean paste during the making process. Literally, mangae tteok is made of these mangae leaves. It is not sticky and has unique taste and smell.
Kim Dong-heok, CEO of Uiryeong Mangae Tteok, wanted to open a coffee shop on finishing university. When dropped by his hometown, he found out that his father had different idea: to carry on his 10 year old family business of making mangae tteok. As a good son, he rolled up sleeve to help him starting with his marketing skills. Not long after, orders started pouring in from canteens and hotels and even from LA, US. Seeing the sales jumped by 30%, he started to see a potential to grow the business bigger and engaged in full force leaving his coffee shop idea behind.
Learning mangae tteok making technique from his father, he soon organized his father’s non-hardened cake method and obtained a patent No.10-1099619. He carried on to deepen his knowledge at Gyeongsang National University agricultural CEO course and as the business was getting bigger asked a help to his younger brother who willingly joined the family business after his discharge of military service. They built a HACCP approved factory with rooms for different purpose of the process and soon introduced its brand Tteoknip Maeul (rice cake village).
Mangae Tteok is made of non-glutinous rice instead of sticky rice yet it gives as sticky feel as sticky rice cakes. The tenderness of the cake lasts for 3 days without being hardened. Also developed is to add red bean, green tea or nuts to the cake to give variety to choose among the mangae tteok lines. As the business is well settled now, Kim is running a soba restaurant and a rice cake cafe as sides, which in a way, he fulfilled his dream.
“Uiryeong is also famous for soba and I wanted to make the most of local specialties into business. I think it is important for a successful businessman to read the trend time to time and make necessary changes to keep the business rolling in this competitive food industry in South Korea” says Kim.
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