Yeongdong, Nov. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – Caves that were created under Japanese rule to serve as ammunition caches have been repurposed as wine cellars and refrigerators.
In 2002, the Yeongdong County government undertook a safety inspection of the manmade caves that dot hillsides throughout the county. Aiming to convert the former storehouses of weaponry to warehouses for food, the municipal government discovered three suitable caves and began renovating.
The overall redesign of each cave included pouring a concrete floor, installing a drainage system, installing lights within and placing an airtight door at the entrance of the cave.
The final result is a series of storage facilities approximately 25 meters deep and 4 meters tall, with a year round temperature from 11 to 13 degrees Celsius and low humidity levels.
To encourage the business sector to make use of the caves, the county passed an ordinance a few years prior that would trim yearly rental fees from 2.2 million won to 300,000 won for food companies.
Yeongdong County saw its first customer in Wine Korea, a regional winery that manufactures and sells its own homegrown brand “Chateau Mani”. A few years later, the second cave was rented out to a foods company, and the third and last cave followed suit by being leased to a saeu-jeot (salted fermented shrimp) manufacturer.
Saeu-jeot is incorporated into a variety of Korean foods, chief among them the national dish, kimchi. November being the month of gimjang, the traditionally designated period of the year for making large amounts of kimchi, interest in saeu-jeot is high, and the number of visitors who have beaten a path to Yeongdong County’s cave to sample the shrimp have been so numerous that the saeu-jeot company is offering tasting tours via reservation.
Over 200 tons of uniquely flavored saeu-jeot are currently held in store.
Yeongdong will renovate the remaining caves as needed based on demand, and the county is also intending to grow the entire area as a tourist attraction.
“Within the vicinity of the caves, there are a lot of tourist attractions like the Rainbow Healing Town and Fruit Land Theme Park. Once additional caves are developed, a tour package comprised of sightseeing at the caves and experiencing the local attractions will be put together,” said a county official.