I have no idea what my friend Avalyn and I were thinking when we planned our first visit to South Korea. We were going in early April and had rose-tinted notions of springtime: cherry blossoms, balmy breezes, sitting outside cafes watching the world go by. Somehow we were also possessed by some bucolic urge after reading about the Nonsan Strawberry Festival and decided we wanted to go strawberry picking.

Unfortunately, with a tightly-packed itinerary that included a trip down to Busan and Jinhae, going to Nonsan was out of the question. As we eyed the roadside fruit trucks scooping out colanders of 딸기 (ttalgi), I suggested:

“Let’s ask our hostel if there are any strawberry farms near Seoul – maybe they can help us find a place nearby to go strawberry picking?”

Our hostel owner was a little surprised by our request, but very helpfully did an online search in Korean for us. Voila – there was small family farm outside of Seoul!

Strawberry picking season at the farm

SongChon Lakeside Farm is about a 90-minute metro ride from central Seoul, at Ungilsan station (Gyeongui-Jungang Line). From there, a 5-minute taxi ride took us to the actual farm. For KRW 15,000 (US$14) each we were given a supermarket-style punnet to fill, ushered into a greenhouse, and shown how to actually go about picking strawberries.

A yummy experience for city folk!

Discovery: strawberries make a “pop” sound when you pluck them, just like the sound you get when popping bubble wrap. I think I was high from the sound and the sugar, because you can eat as many berries as you want while filling your punnet and, well, I was hungry…

The locals, mostly parents with their young children, were probably amused at seeing two women in their twenties hopping like excited kids along the carefully planted rows of strawberry plants.

Me and my punnet of fresh Korean strawberries
I couldn’t resist munching on the super-juicy and sweet ttalgi.

We also got the option to make strawberry jam, but we decided to watch others do it and buy a few jars of ready-made jam instead, since we didn’t want to sacrifice the strawberries we’d carefully picked.

Strawberry Picking: Fresh Fun

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but strawberry picking in South Korea was really fun and eye-opening for a city girl like me. The best part was that I got to train my palate and know what fresh strawberries really taste like (they’re impossible to get in Singapore!) I probably won’t be able to enjoy imported strawberries ever again.


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