YANGPYUNG, KOREA - Leaving Seoul, follow the Route 6, join the 363 local road in Yangsuri, Yangpyeong, and there you will find Mountain Youngmoon covered with large areas of forest. It is here that the Mt. Youngmoon Agriculture Union led by Cho Nam-sang, the president of the union, has run a sandeodeok farm for the last 10 years.
Deodeok is a mountain herb popular in many Korean dishes, such as certain kimchi and jeon. It is generally known that sandeodeok, meaning deodeok grown and cultivated in a mountain, is far better in taste and flavor than farmed deodeok. However, since the early eighties, its production had shown a sharp decrease and has become substituted by farmed deodeok in the market. Sandedeok is currently sold for 15,000 won per kilogram.
The union offers a chance to experience the digging of sandeodeok. Taking into the consideration the fact that sandeodeok, which can work better than ginseng or even wild ginseng for those who looking to releave a fever, becomes efficacious after tuning 6 years old, the union allows participants to dig only for 6-year-old sandeodeok.
Korea IT Times’s reporters headed to Mt. Youngmoon to dig for 6-year-old deodeok firsthand. Gloves, picks, and paper bags for packing deodeok were all provided by the association for free. After a short explanation on digging deodeok, we took on picking for the plant. Since deodeok is vulnerable to scratches or bruises, which will decrease its marketability, we should take extra caution to not hurt the plant.
Harvested deodeok is included in the entry fee for participants. Given that sandeodeok is very expensive at a market, it would seem that this experience is quite economical. In addition, participants will create precious memories, and children can learn the beauty of nature from the experience.
Cho Nam-sang started this business in a bid to introduce the beauty of forest and the excellence of domestic sandeodeok to people. Even though he has not put forth any public relations effort, after it was covered in an article, it has become popular through word-of-mouth.
Deodeok in Mt. Yongmoon is cultivated in the same condition as wild deodeok’s. The association never uses chemical fertilizers, pesticide or herbicide. Instead, they make an optimized environment for naturally growing sandeodeok by firsthand plucking the grass and cutting the trees.