Ginger and Pumpkin Taffy? Just say 'yeot.'
"Yeot...what?" The closest approximation in English for one of Korea's favorite street-sweets might be "taffy." It ranges from sticky-soft all the way to jaw-breaker-hard. Traditional vendors announce their confectionery presence by loudly and rhythmically clanging the chisel-shears needed to divvy up the gooey mass into sellable sections.
Malt syrup from various grains can be transformed into yeot; the giant amber slab I saw on this cart was ginger-flavored, and the other offering was made from pumpkin, a specialty of Ulleung-do island, Korea's windswept volcanic outpost in the Sea of Japan.
As a child I would listen to my mother talk about the sound of these taffy-sellers passing in the streets...Years later, how fun to introduce my wife to the actual taste on the streets of Seoul! Here in the Insa-dong district, the city's old and young elbow their way among visitors--souvenir stalls may beckon, but the timeless tastes of home are even more tempting. Locals along with tourists keep Insa-dong alive all year round.
To pronounce "yeot:" think "yum," then just put a "T" on the end.
To get here: subway line 3, exit Anguk station, or line 5, exit Jongno 3-ga station. This is one of the best spots in Seoul for gifts--from high-end antiques and esoteric teas to posters of K-pop stars, this is the place.