Sea eels are a health food you can enjoy throughout the year

김태인 기자l승인2022.08.18l수정2022.08.18 13:50







When summer comes, Koreans tend to seek health food to recover one’s strength. Each region has each different health food to eat. Regardless regions, however, sea eels are one of the popular stamina foods especially during the summer. More than 90% sea eels are caught in the coastline of Tongyeong and distributed by the Sea Eel Trappers Association and the Coastal Waters Eel Trappers Shipowner Association. 

The Sea Eel Trappers Association set sail in 2019 on approval of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries with a 130 million won ($100,115 USD) subsidy in 2020 with additional 180 million won in 2021. 


Back in 80s and 90s, more than 90% sea eels, or after primary process, exported to Japan. Since 2000, the secondary processed products start to circulate in the market and it is now exporting to Europe and North America also.


“The association has been working hard to supply Tongyeong sea eels to marts and 24 hour convenient stores nationwide so that more people, single or families, can enjoy good taste of sea eels caught around the coast of Tongyeong.” says the association president Huisung Ahn. 

An olden medicine book Bongui Bogam records that eels are good for supplying nutrients and people with weak constitution as well as curing wounds. Sea eels are rich in vitamin A and contain 11 to 18% of fat. They are known to be good for eye, skin and blood circulation. Sea eels also contain vitamin B and E, DHA, EPA and lecithin which is good for brain. 


Sea eels are caught in west and south seas and sometimes as far south as Jeju Island. Yearly 20,000 tons (approx. 72,000,000 eels) are caught and distributed to markets home and abroad. Registered sea eel boats are 50 of which 46 are registered to Tongyeong. 


“The reason we catch sea eels with traps is because fishing and nets give stress to them which drops freshness significantly. They can live in a trap up to 30 days which is enough time for us to process. It can be eaten as raw, grilled, stewed and stir fried.” says Ahn.


Currently, the association is working to introduce new eel products for young people to enjoy without “yuck!” <PowerKorea>

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