Daily Life

Ongdalsam’s gamasot feast

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Some of my favorite things about Ongdalsam are the delicious meals and food events that bring people to our mountain village in Chungju. A man named Kim Hong Do recently gifted two gamasot cauldrons, big enough to feed 200 people. So of course, we opened up a huge feast in celebration. I never imagined so many people would travel here on a Tuesday afternoon. It was amazing to experience a new side of Ongdalsam–as a gathering place.

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Suh Mi Soon is a traditional food specialist and one of the coolest people here at Ongdalsam. I always see her reaching into humongous earthen wares, pickling vegetables and making fermented hyoso tea.

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I spotted Kim Hong Do and some monks chatting about the new gamasot. The two monks who joined us for the feast told me they rise early each morning to prepare rice for the monastery breakfast. It’s their way of life, but something most Koreans rarely ever get to experience. As you can imagine, I stuck around from the beginning until the rice was done!

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The monks explained that the most important part is learning to control the fire, because of the way cast-iron transfers heat. We used oak tree for firewood and brought water to boil before adding the rice. Once it reaches boiling temperature, you have to move all the firewood into the second fire-pit and completely extinguish the fire by throwing in coarse sea-salt. The cauldron will remain hot enough to cook the rice.

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My favorite dish was the spicy and savory eggplant jangajji–a pickled vegetable dishI was so busy running from place to place, I barely got to partake in the actual feast. It was still nice to see so many people enjoy an Ongdalsam meal.

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A good party should have good music, right? An ensemble of young samulnori performers joined us for the feast. They were so amazing I ran out to grab my field recorder, but there is something magical about live performances that is hard to really capture.

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By the next morning, Ongdalsam had already returned to its usual tranquility.

Do you know what the word “ongdalsam” means? It’s spring water that trickles down from the mountains into a small well.

17 Comments

  • Reply
    kimi
    July 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    The photos are so clear and beautiful. So interesting to see and hear about such a big feast and the people who put it together. What a beautiful place!

    • Reply
      Sewon
      July 23, 2013 at 4:31 am

      It’s really amazing to be a part of this community. Thank you, Kimi!

  • Reply
    Matthew Pike
    July 23, 2013 at 3:43 am

    What a sweet kitchen area.

    • Reply
      Sewon
      July 23, 2013 at 4:32 am

      I just love the idea of cooking in a HUGE cauldron!

  • Reply
    katie
    July 23, 2013 at 3:43 am

    so inspiring. what a unique place!! the look of this architecture against the natural backdrop is so magical..

    • Reply
      Sewon
      July 23, 2013 at 4:33 am

      I think it’s a really unique place, even within Korea. And with the looming mountains…my favorite! 🙂

  • Reply
    SARA
    July 23, 2013 at 5:47 am

    i want to go and live with you!ahaha
    it´s seems paradise there <3

    • Reply
      Sewon
      July 31, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      🙂 I hope you can visit this place one day when you visit Korea~

  • Reply
    meds
    July 23, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I love that you’re experiencing so much there – so much beauty, so much culture 🙂

  • Reply
    Liesl
    July 23, 2013 at 11:01 am

    What a beautiful experience. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Reply
    Katrine Ü
    July 24, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    // Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked the pictures though 🙂

    Wow, that sounded like a really really nice big feast! I almost wanted to join in there for a second haha. So nice pictures too! 🙂

  • Reply
    catarina
    July 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

    so beautiful! the music is really incredible, i would like to have been there!

  • Reply
    Veronica Fish
    July 25, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    What an adventure!

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    July 26, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Your posts make me want to go to South Korea so bad. The architecture is so gorgeous. I hope you are well lately!

  • Reply
    Ceri
    August 2, 2013 at 5:01 am

    You always find such incredible things to be a part of and witness.

  • Reply
    Koey
    August 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Sewon, thanks for such beautiful piece of sharing about this traditional feast with word description, photos and even sound! It is so interesting and great to see the unique culture of your place<3

    By the way, I am curious about one thing: Do you like K-pop and Running Man? Many people in Hong Kong are crazy about them, or probably all the (South) Korean pop culture~

  • Reply
    Winnie
    August 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Your photos are incredible Sewon! I love the traditional Korean architecture, it’s so majestic.

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