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Korean Yen-nal ‘Old Fashioned’ Makgeolli Packaging Design


Makgeolli is made from rice and contains carbohydrate, sugar, and alcohol which are said to improve our mood. So on rainy days (like today) when it’s easy to feel down in the dumps, the sales of makgeolli go up!

The design of the label for this ‘old fashioned’ makgeolli says so much with just one simple hanja (Chinese character)! The hanja represents the concept of ‘old.’

When I first started studying Japanese, I used the book Remembering the Kanji, where students are encouraged to make up stories to remember how to write all the different parts of the characters.

Some characters can be tricky to remember! But this one is easy as it’s a pictograph of a gravestone. So in the book, we are told to remember a graveyard we used to visit with ‘old‘ inscriptions on the tombstones!

But in the design of the label on this bottle, the strokes of the brush transform the character for ‘old’ into a Joseon palace gate.

And so we can be transported back in time to recall an era when there were kings and palaces. Makgeolli was typically a drink for commoners. But this design suggests history and tradition and quality, good enough for royalty!

Makgeolli is usually milky-white. So the earthy sesame hue of this drink adds to the feeling of a rustic past. And it certainly tastes stronger than other makgeolli with a richer, more yeasty and sour flavour.

makgeolli bottle design
A traditional teashop

Years ago for a taste of the old days we’d go to a teashop in an old hanok house in Insadong.

There was just room for a few wooden tables and benches worn with scratches and water rings. 

Customers socialised quietly into the early hours adding more messages onto the hanji paper walls.

The owner made her own makgeolli and dongdongju and served it in bowls. Homemade kimchi.

I can still hear her grating raw potato by hand for our savoury pancakes. The strings of the kayagum twanging from speakers somewhere. She wore a beret. Chatted with everyone. Talked about her son studying in America.

Then one day the shop was closed and she was gone too. I’m still searching for another little place with a mood like that. Especially on a rainy day.

makgeolli and kimchi

see more from dramasrok about life in Korea on Facebook Pinterest and Instagram 

related posts:

What food do people in Korea often eat on a rainy day?

A well-known place to eat pancakes and makgeolli is Kwangjang market 

Apple makgeolli in Cheonsong Apple Country





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