Ever Tried Jeju’s Mandarin Oranges? Ever Heard of Jeju International Citrus Expo?

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Cultural Event – Jeju International Citrus Expo
Date of report: November 2016 (Interviewed on November 10, 2016)
Culture reporter: Kim Ji-eun

The Jeju International Citrus Expo, full of things to see and enjoy!
Have you ever thought of the value of mandarin oranges?

When it comes to the winter of Jeju, what comes into your mind first? If you thought of ‘mandarin oranges’, you may have experienced ‘yellow fingers’ that the local people have when peeling pachi (a local term that describes unsellable mandarin oranges), sitting on a warm mattress.

Jeju has held the International Citrus Expo every November since 2013. With the theme of ‘The Future of Jeju and Its World-Class Citrus’, this year’s event rediscovered the value of the local mandarin oranges to help them survive and develop with a competitive edge. Last year alone, the expo drew nearly 170,000 visitors, which makes it one of the largest events ever held in Jeju. Above all, it attracts active local participation, particularly serving as a venue for information exchange among farmers.

The event was comprised of an exhibition, conference, concert, and additional programs. With many attractions to see and enjoy, it especially offered a variety of activities. The activity center (named the House of Onjuri) taught how to make citrus jelly, appealing to kids. It also offered other opportunities to make accessory beads with mandarin oranges, citrus-based diffusors, and more.

On the second day, outdoor activities and other programs were canceled due to the unexpected rain. However, the Citrus Industry Exhibition Hall was visited by many people. A range of businesses held promotional events at the hall, introducing alcoholic beverages, chips, steam packs, and cosmetic products made with mandarin oranges. China’s Jinhuang and Japan’s Ginokawa, the cities in sister relations with Seogwipo, also joined the event by running their respective booths. The citrus cookies I tasted in the Japanese booth was similar to Japanese pancakes and very delicious. In addition to the citrus-based products, the hall displayed and sold agricultural machinery, fertilizers, and pesticides that are used to grow mandarin oranges. Fertilizers such as ‘Jal Jaram (meaning good for growth in Korean)’ and ‘Algenni (meaning ‘Do you get it?’ in Korean)’ drew attention for its rustic but fun brand names.

Visitors to the Citrus Breed Exhibition Hall could enjoy citrus trees of different breeds. Some even had face-sized fruits. I pretended to pick the fuits as if I were a farmer, and touched many different mandarin oranges. I visit my grandma’s farm every year to help her collect the fruits, but I could have unique experiences with the same mandarin oranges at the citrus expo.

Being too common to get and enjoy in Jeju, mandarin oranges may have been less valued than they actually should be. The Jeju International Citrus Expo was a meaningful event to the Jeju people as it helped them better understand the use of the fruit and its true value. Hopefully, we will have more big events like the expo to learn about the representative local specialties and their values.