HADONG COUNTY, South Gyeongsang Province -- Contrary to what many might think, Boseong isn’t the be all and end all of green tea in Korea.
About 87 kilometers east from the South Jeolla Province of Boseong County is Hadong County in South Gyeongsang Province.
From Seoul, it’s about a four hour drive south.
Hadong, for a lack of a better word, is yet another idyllic rural community that boasts plenty of rolling green hills and valleys at the southern tip of the peninsula.
It’s known for the Seomjin River which seperates the Jeolla and Gyeonsang provinces.
It is home to the storied traditional open market of Hwagaejangteo where merchants that have been in the trade for generations gather under rows of canopies to sell their wares which range from tea and dry goods, to pickled mountain roots that are supposedly good for longevity and of course -- male virility.
Among other things Hadong is known for is green tea. It is that the locals are quite proud of.
Though they aren’t the largest tea producers in the country, the tea made here is first class with hand rolled varieties going for upwards of 60,000 won ($
53)for a measley 20-25 grams.
The towns that are scattered about throughout the county are the sort you’ll find everywhere in rural Korea.
They’re small but have character and are full of friendly locals that jump at the opportunity to answer questions about the area.
Cynics might pass up opportunities to speak with them thinking they’ll be duped into buying something they don’t want or need, but why not oblige. These salt-of-the-earth folk need business. A couple of wons here and there won’t break the bank.
The valley and the mountains throughout the county are covered with tea bushes in both clean designs and large, sprawling patches that have been left alone in all of its natural, earthy state.
With the long awaited arrival of spring, families and couples alike might want to head down south between May 1-5 when the Hadong Wild Tea Cultural Festival kicks off all around the Hwagae district of Hadong County.
During the festival, which takes place outside of town near the green tea education center, visitors will be able to check out how a traditional Korean tea ceremony unravels. If watching isn’t enough, visitors can also take part in the precession.
This year is the festival’s 15th edition and will be held under a theme of its "slow city" movement.
Since becoming registered as one of 126 cities from around the world given the "slow city" title in 2009, Hadong has pushed to foster its county into one where life moves at a snail’s pace.
So if life in the hustle and bustle of the city has become a bit stressful, why not head down for some R&R.
By Song Woong-ki (email@example.com)