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Day 12: Food Culture

​There is something else that I've come to realise is a cultural difference too and that's attitudes towards food. In South Korea everything is food related.

When people go traveling around the country, they usually do so to taste food. When someone tells you that they have just been to Jeju-do, you don't ask what they've seen or done, you say: 'Oh did you get to eat black pork, that's really famous there', and they will proceed to list all of the delicious things they ate on their trip.

Every day life in South Korea is centered around food. People meet up over a meal. Drinking happens over a meal, and people care a lot about where they eat and what they eat.

On the internet you can find thousands of recommendations of small restaurants around South Korea, so you know exactly what you need to eat where, and there is always another 맛집 (delicious restaurant around the corner).

My experiences today was focused on eating as well. After classes I went to a Chinese restaurant with a classmate. It is very near our university and it was a great experience.

It's a little different from the sort of restaurants I'm used to, because here there is a refrigerator (depicted on the photo) on one side, stuffed with different sorts of vegetables and noodles and other things. You go up and take a basket and then you fill it up with everything you want. They weigh it for you and you pay according to the weight. You choose your soup, and then they make it for you. It's a fun way to eat and you get to choose exactly what you want and how much, and I must say that the soup was delicious.

It doesn't look that big in the photo but it was pretty big. It ended up being a little more expensive than what I usually pay for food here (so still cheap for a European), and mainly because I picked two special things you have to pay extra for and because I put in a lot, but it was worth it for the experience. It was so tasty that I definitely want to go back and eat there again.

It also has the approval of my Chinese who knows what these soups are supposed to taste like, so it's a meal deserving two thumbs up.

Another food focused part of Korean culture that you may have heard about if you've been paying attention to articles about modern culture, is the culture of 먹방 (Meok-bang) which became popular in South Korea a few years ago.

먹방 litereally translates as: "eating room", and the room refers to a chatroom online. In a 먹방, someone sits in front of a camera and eats, commenting on the food and making mmhh sounds to showcase how delicious the food is. Some Koreans watch this and say that watching someone else eating so deliciously makes them feel full as well, as if they have eaten.

It has been so popular in South Korea in recent years that some people are doing in professionally, like some people are professional Youtubers. I find it to be a pretty interesting concept, and as a European I used to be unable to comprehend why watching someone else eat would make me feel less hungry. I could only imagine that I would feel even more hungry because of it.

Recently though, I have begun to understand that feeling. I experience it not through 먹방 videos, but when watching friends devour their food deliciously. I guess it's a similar feeling that grandmothers get when their grandkids eat well, and its why they keep filling up the plate, even though the kids insist that they can't eat anymore.

Speaking of food, it's time for dinner, so off I go~!

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