Many a morning did I wonder what burden would the day ahead bring, while looking at the clouds hanging low on the horizon, and forcing my eyes to pierce through the darkness of the ocean in front of me. However, such storms in the recess of my mind would settle, and streaks of sunlight would break through as soon as she emerged, water washing over her face and brandishing a net full of abalones. She will certainly live longer than I, she may even live longer than this world. All I know is that this smile of hers that she flashes while showing off her catch, fills my heart with the kind of strength that a lifelong illness never seemed to be able to beat. There is no doubt in my mind, as she swims towards me, that the sparkle of her skin is not the reflection of the sparkle of the ocean. Instead, it is the sparkle of the ocean that is a reflection of the sparkle of her skin.Moo Santak
This extract from a series of notes written by Moo Santak, the late husband of Grand General Jeonbok, shows the affection he had for his wife, but also puts into words the fascination that many can feel but not express. Grand General Jeonbok, simply known as Sindok while her husband was still alive, has always captured the minds of the people of Kapsang, just as many haenyeos do in this area of Haenamguk. Kapsang Jeonbok Shiktang is situated roughly 30 minutes walk east of Kapsang. It is nestled at the bottom of a small hill, in the center of a cove. This shiktang is especially famous for the exquisite taste of the dish prepared by its owner, Grand General Jeonbok, and the beauty of the love story that has connected the two people who have built and ran the place.
Between the Ocean and the Sky
The shiktang is built on pilotis just above the water, allowing small ships to come and dock right by its doors. It is one long construction that is separated in three sections. First, there is a terrace that can hold up to five tables. Anyone disembarking from their ships and onto the pier-like construction find themselves directly onto the terrace. There is a large white sheet made of ship sails that hangs above to provide shade during the day. This cover is attached to the main building on one side, and on two solid poles on the other, close to the edge of the terrace. While the pilotis and the poles holding the fabric are all made out of thick bamboo shoots, the floor itself was built with solid planks of pine wood.
Next is the inner section of the restaurant than can hold seven tables, more than is ever necessary at any given time. However, the shiktang has been known to serve as a shelter in times of very inclement weather. When this happens, tables can be pulled aside to provide space for those in need of a safe space to sleep. There are shelves and a cabinet on the furthest wall from the main entrance. They contain cutlery and dishes, as well as all sorts of ingredients used by Grand General Jeonbok. They are also all covered with detailed miniature trees made of folded paper and pieces of bamboo. All those were made by Moo Santak. He had grown fond of trees and spent all his free time studying their shapes and reproducing them as faithfully as possible. He also made lanterns with parchment and pine wood. Many of them are attached to the fondation beams inside and outside the shiktang. Grand General Jeonbok continues to light them every night, making the outside of the restaurant glow with a soft yellow light, reflecting in the soft surf of the water underneath. The walls of this section are thick enough to withstand strong coastal winds, but are also adorned with sliding doors on all sides. Once opened, they let the breeze travel through the building freely.
As for the third and last section, it is the living space of Grand General Jeonbok. It is built partway on the pilotis and partway on dry land. It is made of a large living area, as well as two storage rooms for all the ingredients needed to make her jeonbokjuk. There is also a smaller room with an outter deck on the eastern side of the house that contains scrolls, books, and stacks of notes, all written by her late husband. The walls of that room can be pulled up to let in the fresh ocean air. While the terrace was the perfect place for Santak in the morning and at dusk, this room was where he spent most of his time writing, studying trees and reading about the world. Grand General Jeonbok continues to keep this space clean, and opens the walls once a day, as if her husband was still using it. Finally, the kitchen is set on dry land, with a couple of kamasotts setup under another fabric tarp, and surrounded by hangaris.
‣ [SPECIAL DISH] Jeonbok Juk
One of the most common dishes in Kapsang, and the entire Nakshi Yeonan coast for that matter, the main ingredients for an abalone porridge (jeonbok juk) are rice, abalones (jeonbok in spiritual lexicon), green onions, garlic and seaweed. However, the process of making it, the freshness of ingredients, and the sauces added to garnish the preparation, are what make this dish so unique depending on the cook. Grand General Jeonbok’s jeonbok juk is especially sought after for its sweet after-taste that lingers in the back of the throat despite the heavily saline humidity in the air. Each serve of her famous dish is both comforting and riveting all at once. Lucky travelers who happen to stop by the restaurant on a day when red ginseng and ginger are available and matured to perfection, will find themselves with such a treat that they will gain an extra 1/lDr of temporary HP. If the travelers’ Hit Points are already maxed out, those temporary HPs are added on top regardless, until they’re spent. This dish, with red ginseng and ginger added, is so highly regarded that adventurers who can afford it, and do get to have it, will get an automatic positive reputation check within the Nakshi Yeonan Province. This check should be removed when the adventurers leave this area, unless they level up their Reputation before they leave, in which case they don’t need to remove it. This special Jeonbok Juk comes at a cost of 2 gold pieces.
‣ [NPC] Grand General Jeonbok
Human Female, Haenyeo
Relatively short in size, like many haenyeos in this area, she has short wavy light grey hair, and a strong muscular body that gives her the appearance of tall Hwasan Dwarf, without the beard or the constant anger. The blue in her eyes seem to be as deep as the ocean itself, and the kindness in her traits is a testament to a life lived in the comforting warmth of a loving relationship. There is, however, a slight hint of sadness in the back of her eyes. It has appeared after the passing of her husband. There is also this quiet pain in her behavior that comes from the knowledge that the rest of her life must be lived without the person she loves by her side.
However, her resolve is has it always has been, and she starts her days diving for abalones before starting to cook for the customers of the day. Anyone coming in early will be able to witness the transformative beauty that offer such scenes of haenyeos at work. In those exquisite moments, their skins seem to turn into sparkles of all shades of blues and greens, almost as if their daily efforts in the ocean had conferred them the ability to invoque a light layer of scales that shines with the morning sun.
While she does emanate kindness and calm, she carries her name with pride and the strength of five adult men. Pirates don’t come anywhere near her shiktang unless they’re seeking a delicious meal that they are willing to pay for, or if wanting to attract the wrath of Grand General Jeonbok, and the entire town of Kapsang with her. She will, when asked nicely on a quiet day, tell many tales of the world, just as her late husband told her on those nights sitting on the terrace, legs hanging above the water, watching the light of dusk turn into a deep black night.