The trick and art of eating moving octopus

This time next week I will be sitting on a plane somewhere on my way to Europe.

I’m doing it again, combining two days in one post, this has happened quite often, especially lately as I have been coming back home quite late. Yesterday I was home at 3am and since I still had to get up early this morning to go to school I decided to delay my blog writing until today.

We got our final grades back yesterday. It turns out that I passed the course with an A.


Yesterday and today were our two final classes this term. We have two teachers, one of them teaching on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the other one teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so both today and yesterday were our last lessons, just with different teachers.

This resulted in a small class party yesterday evening, with one of the teachers (the other one being unable to attend).

We met in Hongdae and started out at a Chicken place with some dinner, naturally beers followed along with the chicken. And more rounds of beers followed the first one.

We took many, many, oh too many, pictures during our trip to Hongdae that also costed us quite some time in class today as everyone, apart from one student (nope, not me) arrived late. I managed to only arrive two minutes late, other’s didn’t manage to attend today’s lesson at all.


Then after class today I finally got to try something that I had wanted to try for quite a while. Because together with Unnie and one of her classmates we went to the fish-market.


My hands and legs had started to tremble as we walked through market and the time to eat lunch approached a bit too fast for my liking. I felt like I was being forced on a roller-coaster ride in Lotte World, yet this was something that I wanted to do. We halted at one of the shops and bought mussels, crabs and that one thing I had been dreading more and more since we had arrived. I usually get used to new ideas quite fast, but this was a reality that I wasn’t ready to accept.

We then went upstairs in a restaurant to eat the seafood that we just bought in the market. We waited for a while and then the most dreaded item of them all came in first:

Yes, that is right, moving octopus, still living octopus. I knew that this it was one of those odd Korean things that I had to try, yet I hadn’t realised just how terrifying it actually was before that plate of moving…. slime… came in.

So here is how you don’t eat moving octopus:

Tada, I survived, I’m still here, the octopus didn’t get stuck in my throat, I could feel it moving though, which turned out to not be scary, just quite cool. I had trouble getting hold of them though, as they kind of suck themselves to the plate and to the other pieces and try to run for the rest of their lives.

As far as the taste goes it tastes like very fresh calamares rings if you take away the fried part and add a bit of soya sauce and eat something living. It is quite nice, but can be quite difficult to chew. I tried to eat a bigger piece a while later but it ended up getting stuck on the inner side of my lip as I tried to chew it, which was quite hilarious, yet worrisome.


I was surprised to see that Unnie actually had more trouble catching the octopus pieces than me even though she has eaten it before. A couple of the ones she tried to catch fled onto the table (covered with plastic, because of this exact reason) and one ran to it’s death while trying to escape but accidentally ending up in the soya sauce.

We also ate two crabs and a lot of mussels, which was just as delicious but not quite as cool as the moving octopus.

Afterwards I headed to Dongdaemun together with Unnie to buy a charger for my Korean phone (as I realised that I would need one for my last couple of days, where I will be living in a hotel, as well as for future trips to Korea). The girl in the shop spoke an odd language to me, that I guessed to be Russian, because it certainly wasn’t Korean, because after having repeated herself for the third time she tried again in Korean, which I understood. I noticed last time as well, that a lot of people speaking that language seem to live in the area, as I’ve sometimes heard it spoken on the streets or in shops nearby. I was quite shocked though, it was the first time that someone in Korea hasn’t spoken either english nor Korean to me.

Of course, since we were in Dongdaemun, we grabbed our last hotdogs together that we, as usual, enjoyed at Chengyecheonno before heading back home.


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Thilde Kold Holdt

I am a novelist by profession, currently working an epic fantasy series about 7th century Korea. My epic fantasy trilogy about Vikings, the Hanged God, is currently being published. I have lived

enough different places that the most difficult question to answer is: "where are you from?" I am, quite simply, from the planet Earth, for I have yet to set foot on Mars. Someday, though...

© Thilde Kold Holdt