Published on : Saturday, January 31, 2015
If you are travelling to Central Seoul, be sure to taste the ripe strawberries near the city Hall. The best way to get there is by availing the huge tour buses that carry overseas tourists to this deliciously mouthwatering destination where the inviting and warm smells of strawberries will completely entice you.
You can purchase boxes of strawberries at the street stalls sold by elderly women who are also known for selling tantalising chicken soups.
Tourists get a chance to eat the fruit fresh by plucking a handful of them from the shrubs. To recognise the best strawberries choose the ones whose leaves rise upwards.
The boxes however come at a price depending on the day, but on average about 500 grams costs between 8,000 won and 9,000 won ($7 and $8). But tourists don’t seem to mind as long as what they are getting the fruit fresh and ripe.
The strawberries are a major attraction of central Seoul and several street vendors have engaged themselves in the task. According to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), travelers from Southeast Asian countries are increasing at a rapid rate.
The organization said about 46,000 Thais visited Korea in 2013, but the number increased by 12.7 percent last year. They visit many tourist attractions such as palaces and museums, but the KTO and local tour agencies said one of the most popular destinations for these travelers is a strawberry farm.
The tourists are able to pay between 10,000 won and 15,000 won per person to pick strawberries and take their harvested produce home with them. Some farms also teach visitors how to make strawberry jam or other simple snacks using the fruit.
A strawberry farm located in Hongseong, South Chungcheong, signed a contract with tourist agencies from Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong and received about 500 travelers last winter.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, these countries have their own strawberries, but they are different breeds that are harder and sourer than the Korean kind.
Thanks to the high popularity of local strawberries, local farms growing the produce have been increasing their exports to Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand in recent years. The Agriculture Ministry said that about 2,525 tons of strawberries were exported in 2012, but that the figure went up to 3,117 tons in 2013, about a 23 percent increase.