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Jindo Hongju: Falling in Love with Fascinating Red Liquor진도 홍주
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승인 2013.05.13  13:19:55
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Usually when we think about red-colored alcohol, we associate it with red wine made from plump grapes imported from the West. In Korea, we have our very own red-colored alcohol, highly regarded due to its exquisiteness. Jindo located in Jeollanamdo Province is the home of the famous drink known as Hongju which literally means red alcohol, designated as the Intangible Cultural Asset No. 26 of Jeollanamdo in 1994. Heo Hwa-ja, an artisan for Hongju, has produced the alcohol to preserve its cultural value for years but currently does not do that due to illness. Instead of her, the Chonnam Tribune visited a person who has the skill of brewing Hongju for many years in Jindo.


Hongju with Korean snacks

It requires a lot of work and dedication to make the alcohol in the traditional manner. The process starts with the preparation of barley corn. After soaking the barley corn in water and steaming, nuruk (Korean traditional yeast made from rice) is added to the steamed rice, mixed with the ingredients in proper proportions and kept for about 15 days in a traditional clay pot maintained at a temperature of between 20 to 23 degrees Celsius. When it is fermented, it is put into a cauldron over a fire at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius. Sojugori (a tool for distillation) is put on the iron pot and a large still on the top of sojugori filled with cold water. When it is boiled, the distilled alcohol falls through the hole of the sojugori. When it has fallen on Jicho (red medicinal herb) on hemp cloth, it becomes Hongju. People who live in Jindo prepare the herb as a household medicine. According to Donguibogam, a compilation on oriental medicine by the royal physician Huh Jun in 1613, the herb aids stomach trouble, fever, and is good for detoxification especially of the blood. In the past, Koreans hold the red color as a treasured tint reserved only for the royal family and those of high descent. So when people render tributes to the king, Hongju was considered as a precious tribute because it is fitting for the highest ruler of the land.

Kim Jeom-sun brewing Hongju usin a traditional brewing method

The reporters visited another place, Hongju Village located as well in Arirang Village, Jindo where many Korean traditional musicians have lived for generations. Understanding traditional music is one of the attractions to know more about the famed drink. The village has many attractions that explain both about Hongju and traditional Korean music while enjoying the cool breeze from the sea. Together with pajeon, Korean scallion pancakes, the company of friends and the sound of breaking waves from the sea, the thought of it is indescribable bliss. You can fill a cup with the red alcohol and enjoy the smell and beautiful color of it. After a sip of alcohol, enjoy the flavor and you can feel the heat spreading in your body. Because of its charm, people cannot leave easily so they keep drinking, get drunk and cannot stand up. So when people call this red alcohol in another name, they call it ‘crippled alcohol’.
Would you choose to drink an exquisite bottle of Hongju? This reporter is sure that you will be falling in love with the red liquor that is combined with its taste and beautiful red color.

By Lim Seon-young, Tribune Reporter

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