Prepared gwamegi
Korean name
derived from 貫目
Revised RomanizationGwamegi

Gwamegi is a Korean half-dried Pacific herring or Pacific saury made during winter. It is mostly eaten in the region of North Gyeongsang Province in places such as Pohang, Uljin, and Yeongdeok, where a large amount of the fish are harvested. Guryongpo Harbor in Pohang is the most famous.[1][2][3]

Fresh herring or saury is frozen at -10 degrees Celsius and is placed outdoors in December to repeat freezing at night and thawing during the day. The process continues until the water content of the fish drops to approximately 40%.[4]

There are records of gwamegi in the Joseon era document Ohjuyeonmunjangjeonsango (hangul:오주연문장전산고, hanja:五洲衍文長箋算稿) which mentions: "herring is smoked in order to prevent rotting". In another document Gyuhapcheongseo (hangul:규합총서, hanja:閨閤叢書), it is written: "herring with clear eyes are chosen to be dried, which give an unusual taste".[4]

The city of Pohang holds an annual Gwamegi Festival to promote the local specialty food.[5] It started in 1997 to promote gwamegi and boost local economies. It is held in November every year and hosts various programs, such as a specialty product contest, free tasting events, and playing traditional Korean music. Some of the major events include a surprise auction of gwamegi, scraping off the skin of gwamegi, and fitting the weight of a gwamegi.[6]


Pohang's Young-Il Bay, which is full of seaweed, was a place where herring herds scattered in the winter. The herring was a major food item when it was thrown into a net, but the problem was how to keep it so that it could be eaten at all times. However, someone hung the herring in a kitchen window (small ventilated window), which had a smoking effect because the smoke was coming from the kitchen.

Since then, people have all hung herring in the kitchen window and started to spend the winter. The herring was frozen in the cold winter winds, then melted and dried during the cooking cycle, leaving half dry. The tooth tasted great. The Young-Il Bay people who learned how to freeze and dry the fish further developed by doing this by placing herring on the beach of Guryongpo, where the sun was blazing during the day and the cool sea breeze was hanging at night.

Since the 1960s, herring has drastically decreased in the Younh-Il Bay, making gwamegi with mackerel pike caught in large quantities, and it tasted as good as herring. Even today, GwamegI is still made from mackerel pike.[7]

Acting both as a research center and a tourist attraction, the Gwamegi Culture Museum (구룡포 과메기 문화관), a large museum detailing the history, science and traditions behind gwamegi, was opened in Guryongpo in 2016.[8]


See also


  1. ^ (in Korean) Gwamegi Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine at Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
  2. ^ The True Flavor of Pohang, Gwamegi
  3. ^ (in Korean) Gwamegi, Youngnam News, 2018-02-21.
  4. ^ a b (in Korean) Gwamegi at Doosan Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Gwamegi Festival, Pohang City official site
  6. ^ "Pohang Gu-Ryong-Po Gwamegi festival" (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  7. ^ 과메기. (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  8. ^ 구룡포 과메기 문화관. Guryongpo Gwamegi Culture Museum's official website (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-03-05.

Further reading

  • "Gwamegi". Invil: Information Network Village. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2008-08-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Korea Tourism Organization (2007-02-13). 바람이 고이 빚어낸 생선회! 포항 구룡포 과메기. The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2008-08-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Jo Seong-ha (조성하) (2007-12-07). "과메기 익는 마을" 포항시 구룡포. Dong-a Ilbo (in Korean). Retrieved 2008-08-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Jang In-seok (장인석) (2002-01-11). 제철 만난 구룡포 과메기 (in Korean). Women Dong-a. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links

  • (in Korean) Festivals in Pohang