Ganggu is where the most Yeongdeok snow crabs are bought and sold. This is readily apparent when one visits the port. A gigantic model of a reddish crab greets you like a billboard from high above Ganggu Bridge, and the main road of the seaport is lined with hundreds of snow crab restaurants for about three kilometers. The iron pots standing before the restaurants emit muggy steam from snow crabs being cooked, along with their palatable scent that mingles with the salty sea winds to stimulate your olfactory sense.
A snow crab is called daege in Korean, and its Korean name frequently misleads people into believing that the crabs are very large since dae usually means “big.” Here, dae signifies daenamu, which is bamboo, and indicates that the legs of daege are as long and straight as bamboo. One cannot simply say that the larger a snow crab the better. All else being equal, the heavier the better. Experts add that the best crabs are the ones that are alive with all their legs still attached intact.
The crabbers of Yeongdeok start catching snow crabs in December, one month later than in other areas, in order to protect marine resources. Around 8:30 in the morning, when the sun shines bright red over the seaport, the crabbing boats come in with seagulls eagerly in hot pursuit. A tiny band is put around one of the legs of every quality snow crab when crabs are unloaded from the decks to label it as a Yeongdeok snow crab of high quality, and the crab auction space is covered with countless snow crabs.
The Yeongdeok snow crab season runs from December to April. Snow crabs caught during this time are completely packed with sweet flesh. The best variety of snow crabs in Korea is bakdal daege. This name requires some more explanation. Bakdal is a kind of birch. In other words, bakdal daege has dense flesh like bakdal trees and the most delectable fragrance and taste. So precious are they that one single bakdal daege weighing two kilograms usually sells at auction for over KRW 100,000, or approximately USD 91.
A festival for everyone
Yeongdeok holds the Yeongdeok Snow Crab Festival every March in order to give as many people as possible the opportunity of enjoying and tasting Yeongdeok snow crabs. This year, the festival will take place in and around Samsa Marine Park, Ganggu, and a village dubbed Daege Wonjo Maeul, or Origin Village of Snow Crabs. This is the 15th festival to be held, and it will run from March 8 to 12. The theme this year is “Stories of Yeongdeok Snow Crabs.” A play will be staged on this theme to show the life and history of Yeongdeok snow crabs as well as the lives and the joys and sorrows of crabbers of the east coast of Korea.
There will be hands-on activities, too, for everyone to enjoy. The most representative of them is the Golden Yeongdeok Snow Crab Catching Game. Visitors can try their hands at catching Yeongdeok snow crabs from a large water tank. One person may catch two to five crabs, and if you are lucky, you will catch a snow crab wearing a gold ring. This catching game is for everyone?young or old, male or female, Korean or foreign?and your five senses will all be stimulated with fun and good taste.
The surprise auction of bakdal daege is another event you should not miss. Let’s not forget that a good bakdal daege goes for over KRW 100,000 at a standard auction, but this auction is your chance to get such a crab at a deep discount. It will be a steal!
The Ganggu marina allows you to ride water cycles and catch Yeongdeok snow crabs, while looking out over the beautiful East Sea. Besides water cycling, visitors are also invited to try other water sports and leisure equipment.