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[Opinion] Special Zone

Posted December. 30, 2004 22:42,   


Boncho Gangmok, a medical book from China’s Ming Dynasty, introduced two theories regarding the origin of bokboonja, a kind of raspberry. First, the name originated from the fruit’s shape which is similar to an upside-down water jar. Second, the fruit was named as such because a chamber pot would be turned upside down when you urinate in it after eating the fruit, a story that is liked by bokboonja lovers. Boboonja is a typical stamina-enhancing healthy food. People traditionally made wine from wild bokboonja in and around Gochang, Jeonbuk. When restaurants around Mt. Seonwoon started to commercialize bokboonja wine in the 1980s, the alcohol really took off across the nation.

Yaknyeongsi in Daegu is a traditional herb medicine market where medicine was distributed near inns within the city twice a year, in spring and autumn, from the ninth year of King Hyojong of Joseon Dynasty (1658). The market provided medicines not only domestically but also to China and Russia. Areas around Namsung-ro, Daegu, is traditionally called medicine alley, as some 350 herb medicine-related establishments such as herb medical hospitals, medicine manufactures, medicinal decoction manufacturers, pill-rollers, millers, and ginseng vendors stood along the streets. Daegu Yakrnyeongsi Herb Medicine Festival is held every year from 1978, aimed at the conservation of Yaknyeongsi and the culture of herb medicine.

When Lee Seong-gye, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty was young, he once had a delicious lunch with hot pepper paste in a farmer’s house on his way to meeting his mentor Muhak Daesa in Manil-sa in Sunchang, Jeonbuk. Remembering the wonderful taste of the hot pepper paste of Sunchang area, as the king, he later ordered the area to supply the royal palace with hot pepper paste. There are still many families in the area which make and sell hot pepper paste for generations. To make an authentic hot pepper paste, you should use iron-rich water, sugar-rich red peppers, and soybeans, and ferment the old soybeans around Cheoseo, one of the traditional 24 seasonal divisions occurring in July of the lunar calendar. Then, you should make it using fresh powdered red pepper and the above-mentioned materials in the winter.

David Richardo, a British economist in the 19th century, published a unique theory on competitive edge. The theory says that Portugal, which is hot and sunny, should specialize in the wine industry, and Britain, which is warm and rainy, should focus on the woolen industry, to get mutual benefits. The government designated seven special zones, including Gochang Special Zone for the bokboonja industry, Daegu Yaknyeongsi Special Zone for herb medicine, Sunchang Special Zone for hot pepper paste and other traditional sauces, and deregulated those areas to develop the characteristics of each area. It is what Ricardo earlier declared that whether it be a person or region, one should choose and specialize what one can do the best to succeed.

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial Writer, hthwang@donga.com