Photo: Imsil-gun county's annual cheese festival. Credit: Imsil-gun.
South Korea is not known for its cheese-making, but Imsil-gun County of Jeollabuk-do Province 전라북도 임실군 is trying to change that. The farming county in the southwest has been producing cheese since 1964, in a project spearheaded by the Belgian missionary Didier t’Serstevens. Arriving in Imsil in 1958 as a 27-year-old Catholic priest, t’Serstevens built a ramshackle cheese factory to give impoverished Korean farmers a way to produce high-value agricultural products.
Now known for its cheddar and mozzarella cheese, Imsil holds an annual cheese festival, as well as Belgium Day 벨기에의 날, celebrating t’Serstevens’ contribution to the locality. More than 500k people attend the festival, which will be held from October 6 to 9 this year.