Tag Archive | Korean culture

떡꼬치 TTeokkochi (Spicy Fried Korean Rice Cake Sticks)

Another one of Korea’s favorite snack foods. Spicy ‘rice cake’.



One of the most exciting activities in the Korean exchange program is the cooking activity. I feel so excited to learn how to cook Korean foods and enjoy them to the utmost. The first food we cooked together was 떡꼬치 TTeokkochi (Spicy Fried Korean Rice Cake Sticks).

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Korean Bath Houses

Korean Bath Houses are a pretty interesting cultural education. You can learn a lot about the culture there. I’ve been a couple times, but it’s just a little too out there for me. Being naked with a bunch of naked Korean ajummas and halmonis is a little overwhelming. 😀

I’m going to add some interesting pictures to this post. Most of them have been posted on other blogs, so I will try to include the links to the original article at the end. They are all very interesting stories of people’s experiences in these types of bath houses.


Korean spa Korean spa

This is a bath house in Pusan. Nongshim in Dong nae This is a bath house in Pusan. Nongshim in Dong nae

National Archives of Australia
Korean bath houses in 1959


Psy in the steam room
Psy in the steam room

Might as well add the video too

Article from CNN

Bathhouse basics

Getting Naked in Korea

Korean Bathhouse in Shanghai

Korean Spa

Hotel Nongshim, Pusan

Bathhouse experience

JJimJil Bang


Teacher, I like dog food!

This was what one enthusiastic student interrupted my lesson with. Another shocked student responded incredulously, 개음식 (dog food)? I think everyone knew he meant dog meat, but I was on the floor practically break dancing I was laughing so hard. Most kids will say they don’t like dog meat because they like dogs as pets. But this boy was unashamed of his love for dog soup, and the other students were a little surprised at his honesty.

When the students are asked, “Do you like dogs?” they will respond, “Yes, I like dog” as they are not accustomed to using plurals on the end of their nouns. They use a counting unit which varies depending on what kind of object you’re counting. Ironically, it means they like dog meat if they say that and when you say “Oh, you like dog meat?”, they say “NO, teacher!” That’s the fun of teaching English in Korea.

When we first came to Korea they were getting ready for Word Cup 2002. There were a few news stories being done on the Korean’s practice of eating dog soup to get people acquainted with some of Korea’s more controversial side, so when we arrived here they were very defensive about this. Actually, I had not seen any of these programs and was unaware of it until a colleague of mine said when he found out I was headed for Korea: “Tell those @#$% to stop eating dogs”. He added he wasn’t so much against eating the meat, but the practice they used in killing them. It is cruel. I guess they beat the dog to death so that the meat is more tender, but I think there’s something superstitious about it too, meaning they can get some power from it when they eat it, especially men like dog meat. Women eat black goat.

One thing about Korean cuisine is true. They are still very much in touch with their ancient food culture. They use food as medicine and view it that way. So they eat special soups in the summer to help their bodies deal with the heat, such as, 삼개탕 (chicken soup), 보신탕 (dog soup  of body nourishing soup), and 영양 탕 (basically means health soup). They also eat bone broth (oxtail soup) for health. And they eat Kimchi which is a fermented food that originates from having to preserve it over the winter and it’s health boosting qualities are well documented.

Restaurant that sells health soup

Restaurant that sells health soup in the traditional market


Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about dog meat:


Gaegogi (개고기) literally means “dog meat” in Korean. The term itself, however, is often mistaken as the term for Korean soup made from dog meat, which is actually called bosintang (보신탕; 補身湯, Body nourishing soup).

The consumption of dog meat can be traced back to antiquity. Dog bones[further explanation needed] were excavated in a neolithic settlement in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province. A wall painting in the Goguryeo Tombs complex in South Hwangghae Province, a World Heritage site which dates from the 4th century AD, depicts a slaughtered dog in a storehouse. The Balhae people also enjoyed dog meat, and the modern-day tradition of canine cuisine seems to have come from that era.[82]

Although their Mohe ancestors did not respect dogs, the Jurchen people began to respect dogs around the time of the Ming dynasty and passed this tradition on to the Manchu, it was prohibited in Jurchen culture to use dog skin, and forbidden for Jurchens to harm, kill, and eat dogs, the Jurchens believed that the “utmost evil” was the usage of dog skin by Koreans.[citation needed]

South Korea

A dish made with dog meat in South Korea, Seoul, Korea

Dog meat sold in Gyeongdong Market, Seoul, South Korea

In South Korea dog meat is eaten nationwide and all year round, although it is most commonly eaten during summer.[4]

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety recognizes any edible product other than drugs as food.[83] In the capital city of Seoul, the sale of dog meat was outlawed by regulation on February 21, 1984 by classifying dog meat as ‘repugnant food’ (혐오식품), but the regulation was not rigorously enforced except during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2001, the Mayor of Seoul announced there would be no extra enforcement efforts to control the sale of dog meat during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was partially hosted in Seoul. In March 2008, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced its plan to put forward a policy suggestion to the central government to legally classify slaughter dogs as livestock, reigniting debate on the issue.[84][85][86]

South Korean Food Sanitary Law (식품위생법) does not include dog meat as a legal food ingredient. Also, dog meat has been categorized as ‘repugnant food’ (혐오식품) based on a regulation issued by Seoul Metropolitan Government, of which using as food ingredient is not permitted.[87]

However, the laws are not strictly enforced. The primary dog breed raised for meat, the Nureongi (누렁이), or Hwangu (황구); which is a specific breed, different from the breeds raised for pets in the country.[88][89]

There is a large and vocal group of Koreans (consisting of a number of animal welfare groups) who are against the practice of eating dogs.[90] Popular television shows like ‘I Love Pet’ have documented in 2011, for instance, the continued illegal selling of dog meat and slaughtering of dogs in suburban areas. The program also televised illegal dog farms and slaughterhouses, showing the unsanitary and horrific conditions of caged dogs, several of which were visibly sick with severe eye infections and malnutrition. However, despite this growing awareness, there remains some in Korea that do not eat or enjoy the meat, but do feel that it is the right of others to do so, along with a smaller but still vocal group of pro-dog cuisine people who want to popularize the consumption of dog in Korea and the rest of the world.[90] A group of pro-dog meat individuals attempted to promote and publicize the consumption of dog meat worldwide during the run-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, which prompted retaliation from animal rights campaigners and prominent figures such as Brigitte Bardot to denounce the practice.[91] Opponents of dog meat consumption in South Korea are critical of the eating of dogmeat as some dogs are beaten, burnt or hanged to make their meat more tender.[92]

The restaurants that sell dog meat do so, often exclusively, at the risk losing their restaurant licenses. A case of a dog meat wholesaler brought up on charges of selling dog meat in arose in 1997. However, an appeals court acquitted the dog meat wholesaler, ruling that dogs were socially accepted as food.[93] According to the National Assembly of South Korea, more than 20,000 restaurants, including the 6484 registered restaurants, served soups made from dog meat in Korea in 1998.[94][95][96] In 1999 the BBC reported that 8,500 tons of dog meat were consumed annually, with another 93,600 tons used to produce a medicinal tonic called gaesoju (개소주).[96] As of 2007, the dogs were no longer being beaten to death as they had been in past times.

Dog meat is often consumed during the summer months and is either roasted or prepared in soups or stews. The most popular of these soups is bosintang and gaejang-guk, a spicy stew meant to balance the body’s heat during the summer months. This is thought to ensure good health by balancing one’s “ki” or vital energy of the body. A 19th-century version of gaejang-guk explains the preparation of the dish by boiling dog meat with vegetables such as green onions and chili pepper powder. Variations of the dish contain chicken and bamboo shoots.[97]

North Korea

Daily NK reported that the North Korean government included dog meat in its new list of one hundred fixed prices, setting a fixed price of 500 won per kilogram in early 2010.[98]


I’ve never eaten dog soup. I just don’t care to try it. I’m glad to hear they’re not beating the dogs anymore. What about you? Would you like to try it?




The Shilla Dynasty

While Rome was busy trying to keep control of its empire, the Korean peninsula was in the process of solidifying its power blocks.

The period called the three kingdoms is when some unification of the peninsula started taking place. Shilla kingdom was located in the southeast of the peninsula, where present day Busan City and area is. Baekje was in the southwest, where present day Jeolla province is. Goguryeo was in the north area.

Shilla(57 B.c. – 935A.D.)

Baekje (18 B.C – 660 A.D.)

Goguryeo (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.)



The Kaya kingdom was formed later than the others from 42 A.D. and remained until 562 when Shilla swallowed it up. Spelling differences in the names are due to the romanisation of the Korean names. When Shilla annexed the Kaya/Gaya kingdom, Baekje and Goguryeo responded by allying together. Shilla then countered with a unification with the Tang Dynasty in China. That tipped the scales and Shilla then united the southern parts of Korea and the north passed into the Balhae era, so that there was a north/south delineation.

This map shows the geographical boundaries of the two kingdoms around 830 A.D. Balhae extended far into Manchuria and Russia until China rose up and took back some of the land.


The Unified Shilla Kingdom remained from 676 until 935 and Balhae Kingdom was in existence about the same time period. Obviously the south of the peninsula is very proud of their Shilla Dynasty roots. The capital of the Kingdom was Gyongju. It was the capital of the Shilla Dynasty for 1000 years. They call the whole city a ‘museum without walls’ as there are Kings tombs scattered throughout the area. It is designated as a World Heritage Site.

Kings tombs

Kings tombs

more tombs

more tombs

It was during the Shilla dynasty that Buddhism became the official religion for the Kingdom.

Bulgok sa in fall

Bulguk sa (temple) in fall

Bul gok sa

Bul guk sa (Sa means temple)

The temple of Bul Guk is the most famous temple of Kyong ju. It has a Unesco Heritage Treasure designation.

Korea's biggest bell

Korea’s biggest bell

A huge bronze bell is displayed near the Kyong-ju National Museum. It is one of Korea’s National Treasures.

Here we are by the Bomun Lake

Here we are by Bomun Lake Resort.


The Bomun Lake Resort is an international tourist destination. There are five super-deluxe hotels, a golf course, an amusement park, a hot spring, museums, and lots of shopping.

Maurie and Darcy in front of the Cheomseongdae Observatory

Us in front of the Cheomseongdae Observatory

This observatory is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia. It was constructed about 632-647 and was used for observing the stars and forecasting the weather. It is one of Korea’s National Treasures.

That’s my short history for the Shilla Dynasty in Korea. I recommend seeing this city when you come to Korea. Koreans, especially those in the Kyung Sang province, are very proud of their Shilla Dynasty.