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The Artisanal Spirit of High-end Makgeolli Brewerers, Baehaejung Doga

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Naming the brand after yourself is a sign of confidence in the products you produce and of readiness to take complete responsibility for anything related to the products. Makgeolli (Korean rice wine) producer Baehaejung  Doga (BHD) bears the name of its CEO, Ms. Bae Hae-jung. The company has led the development of the high-end makgeolli market ever since its establishment in 2001.

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All Three Siblings Carry on Their Father’s Business


Ms. Bae is, in fact, a late bloomer. She was a stay-at-home mom after getting married as soon as she graduated from college. But, at the age of 40, she jumped into the makgeolli business under the influence of her father.
Ms. Bae’s father, Bae Sang-myeon (his pen name Ugok () means “think of yeast once more”) was a widely recognized master of traditional Korean liquor. Mr. Bae passed away at the age of 89 last July. He devoted his entire lifetime to restoring the traditional liquor culture that had ceased with the ban on traditional brewing during the Japanese colonial period. Mr. Bae focused on research of the makgeolli yeast. He once suggested to his daughter, “Together, let’s make the traditional Korean liquor that will become the best liquor in the world,” and that’s how Ms. Bae decided to start her makgeolli brewery. By that time her two brothers had already followed their father’s path and were running their own breweries. Ms. Bae’s older brother Bae Jung-ho is operating Kooksoon-dang Brewery (the flagship product of which is Baekseju) and her younger brother Bae Yeong-ho is managing the Baesangmyun Brewery (best known for Sansachun).
Cultivating the Market for High-End Makgeolli
From the beginning, Ms. Bae carried the banner for developing the market of high-end makgeolli. Her debut product was Buja (富者; The Rich), which reproduced the strong makgeolli that Korean aristocrats enjoyed during the Joseon dynasty (1392~1910).
The product was made only with expensive ingredients that are good for the body. This includes Gyeonggi rice, the best quality rice in Korea. At that time, it was exceptional as most other makgeolli producers were brewing makgeolli with wheat flour. The liquor has a strong taste, it is not diluted with water, and the alcohol content is 16 percent. Unlike the products of other companies, Buja comes in glass bottles, not plastic.

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Making a Hit in Japan with Buja Makgeolli
Immediately after Buja makgeolli was released, Ms. Bae’s business plunged into the red because using the high-end expensive ingredients is very costly. What’s more, it was difficult to find consumers because many people thought of makgeolli as a low-end, cheap product. Eventually, Ms. Bae decided to first break into overseas markets. She noticed that many Japanese tourists were buying the special sets of BHD as gifts in the Namdaemun Market. In 2003, that inspired her to demonstrate her makgeolli products at the Japanese international food fair FOODEX. At the event, she succeeded in making an export contract with Japanese buyer Showa Trading. The makgeolli exports through Showa Trading have continued until now.

Challenging Any Competitor with the Quality


Since then, Ms. Bae has launched many different types of premium makgeolli products such as Buja Purple Sweet Potato Rice Wine, Buja Grape Rice Wine, Draft Rice Wine, and Ugok-Ju. She went to extremes several times - making huge investments to develop new products - but in the end BHD liquor has entered many markets around the world including China, Singapore, Australia, Vietnam, and many more. Ms. Bae is confident her company can beat out any competitor armed with the quality of the BHD liquor. She said, “We will lead the globalization of makgeolli.” Her passion and perseverance never seems to fade away.

BHD Makgeolli Differentiation
Strategy
Traditional Nuruk
BHD makes its products with only the traditional nuruk that utilizes the findings of 60 years of research carried out by Master Bae Sang-myeon.

The Method of Raw Rice Fermentation
All makgeollis of BHD are produced through the method of raw rice fermentation. The technique doesn’t use steamed rice but powdered and fermented raw rice. Since the heat is not applied, the rice retains its nutrition (such as amino acids and dietary fibers). This is why the product doesn’t give any hangover.

The Use of Korean Ingredients
BHD adheres to the principle “When brewing Korean liquor, use only Korean ingredients.” The main ingredient of BHD makgeolli is Gyeonggi Rice, which boasts the highest quality among the rice brands produced in Korea.

Inquiries   Baehaejung Doga            
Tel   +82-2-3462-7328            
Fax   +82-2-576-6325            
Website   www.baedoga.co.kr

Makgeolli Products of Baehaejung Doga   

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Buja Purple Sweet Potato Rice Wine:
Made with only Gyeonggi rice and purple sweet potatoes from Yeoju County, this makgeolli has an excellent antioxidant effect and is rich in dietary fibers. It was selected as an official liquor of the Korea-Japan summit in 2009. /Alcohol 8%, volume 375㎖

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Ugok-Ju: The name of this wine comes from the pen name Ugok () of Master Bae Sang-myeon. It is a premium makgeolli, not diluted and preserving the original taste of makgeolli. The product reproduces Ihwa-ju, a type of traditional liquor popular during the Joseon dynasty. The name Ihwa-ju, in turn, derives from the timing when the wine is brewed - during the blooming of pear trees. Ugok-ju uses the organic Korean rice, so it is rich in lactic acid, organic acid, and natural dietary fibers. /Alcohol 13%, volume 700㎖        

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Rice Wine: The product has the representative milky color of Korean rice. It has a rich yet soft taste and scent. /Alcohol 6%, volume 1000㎖

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Buja Grape Rice Wine:
To make this product, BHD used its knowhow and the original recipes dating back to the Goryeo period (918~1392) for making makgeolli with rice and grapes. Songsan grapes add a delicate scent to the flavor of Buja makgeolli. /Alcohol 9%, volume 375㎖

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Taktail: This cocktail-type product was developed for young consumers. Taktail is a combination of “cocktail” and “Takju” - one of the names for makgeolli. Taktail comes in five different types: banana, grape, black raspberry, strawberry, and plum. The product won the second prize in the 2011 Korea Liquors Contest. /Alcohol 7%, volume 375㎖
 

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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