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Candy Craftsmanship: Korea's First Family of a Classic Confection

Bong-Seok Kang’s passion for making candy might stretch as far as the yeot he makes. For the past 140 years, his family has been making and selling authentic Korean yeot. For Kang, it’s all about craftsmanship—and the candy, of course.

Yeot is a traditional Korean sweet that’s been around for over 1,000 years. It’s usually made with malted barley and steamed rice, which are lightly fermented to give it a sweeter taste. Afterward, the candy is stretched out to make it less dry and more translucent. The result? An almost taffy-like confection that’s sure to please.

In the past, yeot was a delicacy reserved for a more privileged class. Now, thanks to people like Kang, yeot is a treat that can be enjoyed by anyone. It is that pride of knowing he is representing such a longstanding tradition that Kang explains is what makes it all worthwhile. Today, there are all kinds of yeot: daikon yeot, sweet potato yeot, even pheasant yeot. And in some places, radish yeot is sold for a more medicinal use, cited to be anti-inflammatory. Can your taffy do that?

Kang’s traditional family recipe has been passed down for generations and includes different flavors from adding things like pumpkin, ginger or bellflower. He says he knows the importance of keeping his family business going and hopes he can continue to create authentic and traditional yeot for everyone to enjoy. While yeot isn’t very popular outside of South Korea, there are still places you can get your hands on some, mainly through specialty Korean stores or even Amazon. But for the traditional recipe of Kang’s familial yeot, you’ll have to stop by his store in Chungju in person.

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