Rice-based makgeolli is an all-purpose liquor in Korea, used both for celebration or mourning a loss. Many older generations in Korea drink it as a reminder of the past — but it’s experiencing a revived popularity among younger crowds.
A new video from CNN’s Great Big Story showcases the work of Taek-Sang Kim as he brews the milky-colored liquor with a recipe that’s been in the family for five generations. The family brewing business also makes soju and the refined rice wine known as yakju, and it’s been around a long time: since the Joseon dynasty, which dates back to the 1300s.
In the video, Kim walks through the two-month brewing process for rice wine-esque makgeolli at his homey studio in an old quarter of Seoul, Bukchon.
Kim explains that the final product should check three boxes: ideally, it’s “tart, sweet and sour.”
But he has bigger goals than just concocting a makgeolli that Koreans can appreciate. “I hope I can contribute to the revival of the Korean traditional liquors,” Kim says.
“When there is no traditional culture, there is no country.”