The Cultural Heritage Administration has designated makgeolli as a new national intangible cultural asset. Before makgeolli, traditional types of liquor, such as Munbaeju, Myeoncheondugyeonju, and Gyodongbeopju in Gyeongju city, were previously designated as intangible cultural assets. However, in the case of makgeolli, it is different because it was recognized nationwide.
Makgeolli refers to a drink that is filtered. Makgeolli’s ‘mak’ means ‘just filtered fresh’ and ‘filter roughly.’ Makgeolli is also called Takju because it is not clear but murky. Baekju is called so because it is white in color, and Gaju got its name because it is a type of liquor that is homemade.
Makgeolli was loved by ordinary people for its easy-to-create alcohol content by using easy-to-find ingredients. The main ingredients include rice, yeast, and water. Under the liquor tax law, the addition of spices or pigments to a tablecloth-type liquor is treated as ‘other liquor,’ and the name of makgeolli will not be made available.
According to the Cultural Heritage Administration, makgeolli is made from grains, such as non-glutinous rice, glutinous rice, and barley rice, so it is presumed to have existed since the introduction of agriculture before the period of the Three Kingdoms. The Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms and The Heritage of the Three Kingdoms use various ancient texts, such as ‘mion,’ ‘jiju,’ and ‘yorye,’ and records of manufacturing methods have been found.
In 2019, the government created a window for ‘Finding Hidden Intangible Heritage’ and ‘Proposing People’s Sinmungo’ so that people could directly propose national intangible cultural assets. The Korea Makgeolli Association and other groups proposed making makgeolli, and the culture of making makgeolli became the first case of national intangible cultural heritage that was designated through public suggestion.
An official of the Cultural Heritage Administration said, “It has a long history of making makgeolli, and records related on making makgeolli have been confirmed in various ambient literatures, thus proving its historical basis.”
The Cultural Heritage Administration held an anniversary event for the designation of makgeolli, and conducted a tour of breweries around the country. “This opportunity is to introduce the makgeolli industry to consumers, and develop a program they feel familiar with,” said the director of the Korea Makgeolli Association. Why don’t you pay attention to makgeolli so that a new intangible cultural heritage can be further developed?
[The Department of Business Administration, 20, Kyonggi University]