Old Street Joints at Traditional Marketplace

Close to Sindang Station is Hwanghak-dong, where Seoul Jungang Market is located. The area is known as “gopchang golmok” because the streets are lined with BBQ joints selling pig’s intestines. The crossroad of marketplace used be busy with dozens of orange tents smoking up grilled intestines. Nowdays, only a few of them are still in business.

Salted intestines without sauce

marinated intestines

The neighbourhood is now considered as central Seoul. But originally, this part of town is seen as outskirt of city and many who lived here were lower class labourers. The workers from nearby factories and textile shops would finish their day’s work and seek comfort at one of the tents. Inside the tent, the lady would cook up some pigs’ intestines marinated in sweet and spicy sauce. Because meat is expensive, workers would drink soju along with relatively affordable grilled intestines instead.

Salted vs. Marinated Grilled Pigs’ Intestines

One of the tents is written Gwangju Halmoni Gopchang. The grandma who runs the tent has been doing this for over thirty years. Now she is with her daughter and together they cook  gopchang over briquette grill.

They offer two kinds of grilled gopchang–salted and marinated. The red sauce in which intestines are marinated is sweet and slightly spicy.  Intestines are carefully grilled over the fire to avoid burning the sauce. Once the intestines are cooked through, they are transferred over a pan lined with aluminum foil. The pan is placed over a portable stove so the intestines are kept warm while they are enjoyed by customers.

Grilled pigs’ intestines are quite greasy. The classic anju goes well with soju. The tent is filled with smoke and smell of burning fat, but this is a perfect way to experience everyday life of Korean working class.