Korean Language Blog

Korean Persimmons Posted by on Dec 10, 2011 in Culture, Grammar, Korean Language, Uncategorized, Vocabulary


It’s harvest time in Korea, and autumn (October to early December) is the only season persimmons are plentiful. If you live in Korea, you will see them being sold everywhere—from outdoor markets, grocery stores, to subway stations. For about 1,000 won, you can buy four to five persimmons. An affordable and healthy treat, persimmons are rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A.

A persimmon, or the transliteration “gam”, is a Buddhist symbol of transformation. Before the persimmon is ripe, it’s green and very bitter. But, it changes its color to a vibrant orange and is very sweet when ripe. This “bitter to sweet” symbolic fruit is mostly eaten when ripe.

There are two types of persimmons found in Korea. One type is a hachiya persimmon 떫은감, or the transliteration “tteolbeun gam”; this translates to “sour persimmon”. A 떫은감 has a deep orange flesh, is acorn shaped, soft, and is often mistaken for a tomato at first glance. Once ripe, it’s soft and sweet with a lot of pulp. Eating one can get a bit messy! You can bite right into one, mash a few up, or make jam.

Another type is a fuyu persimmon 단감, or the transliteration “dan gam”; this translates to “sweet persimmon”. A 단감 has a light colored orange flesh, is round with a flat bottom, and has a crunchy pumpkin-like flavor. You can eat them when they are almost ripe, with or without its skin. The fuyu persimmon is my favorite variety because it’s eaten like an apple and isn’t as messy and sticky as the hachiya.

Even if you don’t care for persimmons, their rich colors definitely “spice up” Korea’s landscape in a beautiful way! Persimmon trees 나무, or the transliteration “gam namu” are found throughout Korea, particularly in mountainous regions.

Many Koreans eat ripe and dried persimmons. Year round, Korean markets and grocery stores carry dried persimmons 곶감, or the transliteration “got gam”. The word 곶 translates roughly into the English definition, “to skewer”. The traditional way to dry persimmons is on skewers; think: shish kebob persimmons! 곶감 are very sweet! You can also  use dried persimmons to make a popular dessert punch called 수정과, or the transliteration “sujeong-gwa”. 수정과 has a spicy ginger, cinnamon flavor; it’s revered as an acid-reflux and nausea reducer. Emily Kim of www.maangchi.com has a very easy to follow YouTube video and step-by-step instructions on how to make this traditional Korean tea: http://bit.ly/TLS8a.

Enjoy the last days of autumn! I am drinking a hot cup of 수정과!

Below are keywords and a correlating sentence. For simplicity, the progression from one word, to two words, to a simple sentence is listed below.

One word
감 ,”gam”

Two words
Persimmon tree:  나무 , “gam namu”

A simple sentence
“A persimmon tree is beautiful.”, “감나무 아름답다”, “Gam namu ga aleumdabda.”


References: Photos provided by Kelly West Mars Photography.

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About the Author: Linda

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  1. Juls Anne:

    I haven’t eaten this yet. Hopefully somebody would let me taste it.

  2. z:

    곷 is spelled 꽃

  3. Kathy:

    Hello, My fuyu tree was producing large sweet persimmons for the last 5 years, then this year they are bitter, like the hachiya persimmon tree. Why would this happen? How can I fix it, to make sweet persimmons again. These are the only 2 trees doing this, one started few years ago, now the 2nd tree is changed


  4. Christy:

    Fuyu persimmon questions:

    Can I make them into freezer jam, in the slow cooker, without pectin?

    Do I have to peel them for making jam, as above?

    Thanks and hope to hear soon.