Haenyeo can be translated to ‘a woman diver’ in English and a Korean traditional Haenyeo traces back to Goryeo Dynasty. The typically elderly women go into the water off the local coasts and find marine products like seashells without a oxygen tank.
With Chon meaning ‘village’, Haenyeochon means ‘a village where Haenyeos live’, in which there usually is an area for the women to sell what they retrieved from the sea that day.
I am not sure Gijang Haenyeochon is actually that kind of area, but surely all the seafood is always fresh and the atmosphere is nice.
There are many pavilions by the coastline and they are pretty much the same in price and menu, so you can just pick one while walking around. My friend and I decided to go to “Grandma Jo’s” (조씨할매집) that day.
This Haenyeochon is famous for their seafood sets which are served between 30,000 won to 50,000 won depending on the size. For two people, the small order should be enough, especially with an additional order of Jeonbokjuk (Korean style congee with abalone).
Knowing that we both eat quite well and there was no small size raw abalone, we went with the medium.
We were served a side set of scallops, sea squirts, sea slugs, small octopus, fat innkeeper worm, top shells, and abalone.
They were still alive and we could see them moving except one dish of cooked seashells.
The healthy and fresh delicious taste kept us focused on the food — some were very chewy, and others were nicely chewy or soft, but all enjoyable.
The mussel soup was very nice to sip from every once in a while, soothing and clearing the palate. Seaweed mixed with their gochujang-based sauce as a side dish can be a nice touch to enjoy the seafood and gives it a little kick.
Switching between the two kinds of sauce — a gochujang and vinegar based and the other sesame oil based — mixed flavors which even for those who don’t enjoy seafood that much would appreciate.
If you would like to enjoy specific kinds of seafood, you can order more individually and it will be between 10,000 won or 15,000 won per dish.
We ordered Jeonbokjuk when we ordered our set so that it would be served when we almost finished with our main dinner.
It is 10,000 won per portion and the minimum order is for two. It seemed nothing was really added and was kept simple with only rice, abalone, and water.
We were very happy with our choices and the atmosphere of the sea and the tent was a good reminder of simpler times these fishermen live in day to day.
Many tables are empty yet during the day on weekdays but it can be a different story during the summer vacation season. Their pavilions do not have built-in electricity so they do not have refrigerators, air-conditioners, heaters, or electric lights, so they have ice boxes and close early.
They also do not have card readers, so make sure you bring enough cash.
Gijang Haenyeochon (기장 해녀촌)
Open: 09:00 – 19:00 (18:00 in winter) daily except the second and last Wednesday (need to check for national holidays)
Address: 187, Yeonwha1-gil, Gijang-gun, Busan
Phone: 010-2202-7554, 010-3833-2972 (Grandma Jo’s)
Take-out: Available for Jeonbokjuk
Parking: Free at Gijang Haenyeochon Parking Lot (기장 해녀촌 주차장)
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