What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about South Korea ? Do you think about K-pop, smart people, spicy food or that they always eat rice ?
These are the most stereotypical things about the country and its citizens. On top of that some are false or simply exaggerated. Well, let’s talk about these clichés and lets try to break them. So, you can understand and know better about the country.
The national dish of South Korea, Kimchi. Kimchi is a really important part of Korean food culture, and it is very appreciated by Koreans. This side dish made out of fermented cabbage is loved because of its spiciness and many ingredients that brings a lot of flavour. Plus it’s very healthy.
Kimchi is slowly becoming one the first thing that comes to mind when talking about South Korea. As a matter of fact more and more people oversea seem to really like this dish as more than $140.8 million sells were made last year and $159.9 million a year earlier. However not everyone likes it and it is totally understandable. Not all French people like baguette and charcuterie; nor all American like eating hamburgers and fries.
The myth about the Rice is mostly true, rice is something really important for South Korean. But it is as important as it is for other asian countries or even Africa. What is important to understand is that the climate in Asia is the best for the growth of rice. Plus, rice is one of the cheapest food in the world.
Therefore rice is the food that people eat the most in the world. As many western people love to eat bread (baguette, pain de mie, brioche), or anything that is made out of wheat. Asians are used to eating rice.
As for Spicy food, it is becoming more and more popular as well. Spicy things like kimchi and Tteokbokki are becoming famous worldwide. But is it really the something people love to eat in South Korea ? Definitely! Eating Spicy food is in the Korean culture for centuries now. And as we can see it is still very much appreciated and has even become a part of the culture. Most traditional Korean restaurants will have a little (or a lot) of spice in their dishes. So if you come to South Korea you better be prepared!
As for raw fish, it is true that Koreans love raw fish or seafood in general. You might think that it is eaten like Japanese do, but it is actually not the same. The difference is the way they eat it, Japanese people tend to eat the fish with soy sauce and wasabi whereas Korean prefers eating it with cho-jang (red chili pepper flakes, fermented soybeans sticky rice and salt) and doen-jang (soybeans paste).
For example eating “live octopus” is something considered normal in South Korea. Even though it is very appreciated, this food is a little bit more expensive compared to things like beef or chicken.
These days South Korea is very well known for its music, more specifically K-pop. This new genre is becoming more and more popular worldwide. Especially among young people who seem to identify to the artists and the lyrics. However, do you think it is the same for Koreans ? It might be popular overseas, but as a matter of fact not everyone listens to it South Korea. First of all because this genre appeared not long ago (early 90s). So if you are above a certain age you might not listen to it or will not be interested in it. And some people don’t hate it but don’t like it either, like rap or other genres, it depends on you music taste.
Thank you for reading,