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Jecheon (제천시): From a herbal city to a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy
Jecheon (제천시): From a herbal city to a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy
  • weekly, walkintoKorea
  • 승인 2022.03.24 11:56
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The journey of transforming Jecheon from a herbal city to a gastronomic city.

Jecheon is an inland city with no sea, but if you look closely, you might be stunned by the hidden charm that the city will reveal. CEO of WalkintoKorea, Mr. Kang Dea-hoon has been to Jecheon a few times and has got the chance to try the very special meals of the city. One of them was called "Burning Night", which was like a fresh, healthy potion. 

The city is very famous for its cuisine. Mr. Kang has also had the chance to talk to the leader of the city's tourism and gourmet department, Mrs. Lee Jeong-hee. She has shared with us that her team is revitalizing the local economy by transforming Jecheon from an herbal city to a gastronomic city.

When a concept is established in city administration, a policy that can be called the lower part is implemented, and urban phenomena are issued according to the policy. With this concept of a city of natural healing, Jecheon has been able to have two developmental elements: oriental medicine bio and gastronomy. Manager Jeonghee Lee is a passionate public servant who not only developed medicinal herbs but also reinterpreted the whole food of Jecheon to lead the Jecheon gastro tour. Below is an excerpt from what Cookie News has covered.

WalkintoKorea CEO Kang Dea-hoon in Jecheon city

-I heard that you took the lead in the development of ‘Yakchaerak’, a brand of medicinal herbs in Jecheon?

"At the time, the mayor wanted to have food using local herbs when the International Oriental Medicine Bio Expo was held in Jecheon in 2010, so he created a brand called ‘Yakchaerak’ and developed herbal bibimbap. At first, I put a lot of herbs in it, and it was bitter and I was very upset because it didn't taste good. Only the desire prevailed. I realized that it is best to create unadorned flavors with ingredients with a story and history without forcing myself to create new food without being overdone. It was important to focus on the ingredients. If you miss the timing of the ingredients, you cannot develop them properly."

Jecheon Gourmet (Photo by Jecheon City)

- What have you learned through trial and error?

"In the past, it was thought that if a specialized food or processed product was developed and patented, it would do a great job. Public officials tend to value individual performance more than commercialization. However, products that are not commercialized are useless. When we invited a restaurant management expert, we focused on commercializing it. I was able to create several menus with one herbal bibimbap and quickly settle down with the help of experts on dishes, table settings, and menu board photos.

The next thing to do is weave it. Previously, we focused on fostering restaurants, but now we are focusing more on creating food tourism and food tour products by linking the businesses we have fostered with the hidden resources of Jecheon. Based on the food developed in this way, we made a gastro tour."

Jecheon Gourmet (Photo by Jecheon City)

- What did you keep in mind when deciding the course?

"Although there were 63 restaurants in the Yakseon Food Street Merchants Association, the character of Yakseon was weak. Looking at the restaurants, I saw a section of meat restaurants in Jungang-dong (Myeong-dong), so I changed the name of this section to “Myeongdong Galbi Alley”, and the rest of the section was combined with a gastro tour. We gathered merchants in the gastro tour section, held a business briefing session, received applications, and developed the current course A and course B, allowing them to experience about 5 types of food. Red oden, a specialty of the nearby Naeto market, was also included in the course, leading to an experience of the traditional market, and the course was structured so that you could climb up to Central Park to hear the story of Chilseongbong, take photos in the moonlight garden in the city, and taste the city forest."

Geumsusan Mountain, one of the "Ten Scenic Views of Jecheon" (Photo by Jecheon city)
Geumsusan Mountain, one of the "Ten Scenic Views of Jecheon" (Photo by Jecheon city)

If you are a foodie, it will be a waste not to try the city's cuisine! The Jecheon Gastro Food Tour is a two-hour program that allows you to taste various foods while walking through the Yakseon Food Street and the traditional market. Especially, food isn't the only famous thing of Jecheon. Pay a visit to the city to learn its popular "Ten Scenic Views"! You will surely be charmed by the hospitality, the amazing food, and the terrific scenery of this lovely gastronomic city!

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