46. Ddeokjeon (rice cake and fried food) Alley in Nagwon-dong
Old-fashioned rice cake eateries were opened one after another before and after the Korean War in Nagwon-dong, close to the royal palaces Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung. Some of them were opened about 100 years ago. These stores are kept busy making rice cakes from several days before the Seollal (lunar New Year’s day) and Chuseok (Korean thanks giving day) to meet customers’ orders. Many of these businesses have operated for three generations. As people’s tastes have changed and there are many more things to eat nowadays, rice cakes are not as popular as they used to be. The number of rice cake houses in this area has decreased from more than fifty to about a dozen.
It is said that, with the collapse of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), former court ladies and attendants entered this business to make a living, leading to the emergence of the rice cake and fried food alley in Nagwon-dong.
There is a phrase, Namjubukbyeong, which concerns the eating habits of people in Hanyang (present-day Seoul). It suggests that poor scholars in Namchon Village enjoyed only liquor while influential and rich people in Bukchon Village enjoyed rice cakes, which were more expensive. These stores in Nakwon-dong are known for sticking to the old-fashioned ways of making rice cakes.