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Cheonbuldong Valley, Seorak-san National Park

Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
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"Dong Dong Joo"--for the name alone, you gotta try it... Sokcho-si  South Korea

"Dong Dong Joo"--for the name alone, you gotta try it...

When hiking in parts of South Korea's Seoraksan National Park, you won't go thirsty. Spectacular crags all around, rustic restaurants dot some of the trails. Mountain spring water combined with rice from nearby paddies leads to fermentation...and voilà: "rice wine!'

Yeah, the milky-colored contents in the bowl look like porridge...but that chunkiness comes from the fact that the beverage is semi-frozen. Ladle some into your bowl and sample some of this very local "dong dong joo." (If you're familiar with Korean liquor, this is similar to 'makkeoli.' If not, there's something else for you to try.)

Slightly sweet, a hint of sour, and ice cold. It wasn't my wife's favorite, but I bottled up what she couldn't finish--yep, the little establishment let me fill up my empty water bottle with it so I could take it 'to go.'

Ahh, the alchemy of rice and mountains...

[This particular 'rest-stop' for hikers is located on the trail to Biseondae in the Cheonbuldong valley. Avoid autumn weekends at all costs--the crowds are formidable.]