Eating Korean Pork Bone Soup / Potato Stew (Gamjatang) - Yongin, Korea

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Aug. 22, 2013

On frigid Korean winter day we ventured off to eat at a local Korean restaurant specializing in Korean Hearty Pork Bone Soup / Stew (Gamjatang) located in Audrey's neighborhood of Yongin, Korea. This travel video showcases our experience sitting down to eat our meal. Gamjatang is a Korean soup / stew with pork spine, potatoes, vegetables, sesame seeds, sesame paste and chili peppers. It's a do it yourself type of Korean meal where all of the ingredients are served in the pot. The best part of the meal, was hearty broth that was spicy and very flavorful. Along with cutting, stirring and removing meat from the bone one also serves their own portion on a small Korean bowl. We enjoyed the meal but found that it wasn't the best value because of the cost. Coming in at W25,000 (roughly 25 USD) we could have found better value with other dishes at a different Korean restaurant. Gamjatang or pork bone soup is a spicy Korean soup made with pork spine, vegetables, green onion, hot peppers and ground wild sesame seeds. It is a matter of contention whether the name of the soup comes from the word for potato (gamja) or not, because the soup is frequently served without potatoes.1
The vertebrae are usually separated with bits of meat clinging to them. The vertebrae is boiled in high temperatures to soften the meat. To remove the meat, one must use an instrument such as a chopstick. The meal is usually served with kimchi and a bowl of rice. This food served as a lunch or dinner and often as a late night snack as well. The soup base is a deep red colour from the red hot peppers. The soup is now common in Korean restaurants outside of Korea, including the United States and Canada. Gamjatang originated in the southern Korean province of Jeolla. The main industry of Jeolla Province was agriculture, and hogs were widely raised and used for food. The origins of gamjatang can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms Era when South Jeolla farmers raised hogs in greater numbers than in most of the rest of Korea. Since cows were the backbone of farming then, used both for their milk and plowing, cows were much more valuable than hogs. Slaughtering hogs for feasts and special occasions was much more common than slaughtering cows, which helps explain the dish's pork origins. When Incheon harbor opened, many people migrated to Seoul and its surrounding area from Jeolla Province, as well as from other parts of the country. When construction of the Gyung-ui Railway began in 1899, lots of laborers started working around Incheon and gamjatang become popular among them because it is cheap, nutritious, and its high fat content provided the calories they needed. As time passed by, gamjatang became one of the iconic foods of Incheon.