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Food for the Seoul

A recipe: Learning about South Korea through food and song.

By Frida Ramos They/herPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Lily pads in the Anapji pond at Gyeongju, South Korea

Locals visiting a temple wearing their traditional hanboks.

K-pop bands and their bright colored eccentric styles have become inspirational to it's American fans in the past few years. Although K-pop has been a thing for many years now it's popularity has been on a rise lately. That has peaked fan's interest in Korean culture as a whole. Korean dramas and their innocent-but-exhilarating hand holding, skin cares that inspire to start a routine, delicious snacks and foods (great for k-drama bingeing), and their intriguing language of course.

Learning about a new culture has to start somewhere. In this recipe everything starts with a song. It's a progression of love for a song to love for and entire culture. Songs lead to learning a language, which spark interest in entertainment as a whole and then you find food.

Comfort food, new food, interesting food, and then food that takes you back to memories made in your journey through a new culture. Munching on pepero while you study Korean. The late night ramyun that you eat while watching dramas for ten hours straight. Tofu house dinners with your friends. Drinking pine tree beverages for the first time while your friend giggles at your reaction. Delicious foods eaten while making unforgettable memories in the process and all because of one song.

This recipe is an adventure and this is what you'll need:

  • 5 gorgeous men or women in vibrant clothing. (try BigBang or 2ne1 and slowly progress to Korean Indie, rap, romantic ballads or even Korean trot!)
  • Late night language immersions
  • Week long Korean drama binges
  • Night time runs for ramyun and snacks
  • A trip through South Korea
  • Open to trying new foods
  • Hunger for adventure


1. Start with a k-pop song. Five gorgeous men show up on a screen (BigBang), enchanting their spectators with their style, moves and angelic vocals.

2. Then frantically look for ways to learn a language, Korean, fast. You want to understand what they're saying, even if not knowing has already managed to hypnotized you. (Immersion, in order to learn quicker you must immerse yourself.)

* One month in, you've learned to read Hangul, their alphabetic system. Your studying consists of: nightly Hangul writing practice and reading websites even if you don't understand anything.

3. Next you find Korean dramas. Watch the classics, Coffee Prince, Boys Over Flowers, Rooftop Prince, Big, and the list goes on.

4. Now that you've fallen head over heals for the singers, performers, and actors, begin your search for places to try all the delicious food that you've seen on the shows. It starts with Korean supermarkets to buy ramyun (so you can munch on while you binge dramas), fruit flavored milk, fun ice cream pops and more. Not long after, you discover foods like Korean fried chicken, tteokbokki (rice cakes), Hodduk (sweet pancakes), Bibimbap (rice bowls with veggies, meat and a fried egg on top) and of course kimchi (fermented cabbage)!

By Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash

5. By now you've met people with similar interest who also enjoy Korean culture and maybe even made some Korean friends. All your oppas/hyungs (older brothers) and unnies/noonas (Older sisters) teach you fun new things like: twirling then aggressively elbowing the base of a soju bottle before opening it or how to pronounce words correctly (maybe even learn a few curse words).

6. After about 3-4 years of concerts, food discoveries and culture immersion you finally decide to visit South Korea.

7. Once in Korea, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Your friend's open their home to you. Their parents are lovely and hospitable. "많이먹어 (eat a lot!)", Your friend's omma (mom), will say as she sets different plates in front of you to eat.

8. Visit spots from your favorite k-dramas.

Namsan Tower Love Locks, South Korea

9. Eat all of the delicious foods you hadn't yet heard of like: Yukhoe (raw beef), Beondegi (silkworm pupae), marsh snail soup and an interesting pine tree drink!


Beondegi (Silk worm pupae)

10. About 6 years later, since the first introduction to K-pop music, things have slowed down. Your friends are back home in South Korea, you don't listen to much K-music, your Korean is rusty and you only eat Korean food once in a while.

You will get nostalgic, so go on spotify and blast your favorite Korean music. Go through your album titled South Korea 2016 and reminisce. On occasion, make yourself some spicy tteokbokki with ramyun and pour yourself a glass of Hite beer or drink a bottle of soju.

Bonus Tips:

How to have the perfect k-drama night.

By Mutzii on Unsplash

1. Choose your drama

2. Gather some blankets, tissues (for your tears) and plenty of water for hydration.

3. Buy your favorite face mask and other skin care products to wear and cleanse your face while you watch your show.

4. Choose your favorite Korean snacks or food.

  • Ramyun
  • Banana milk
  • White rice with kimchi
  • Japchae (Korean stir fried noodles)
  • Gimmari (glass noodles wrapped in seaweed and deep fried)
  • Pepero (cookie sticks dipped in chocolate or other flavors)

Now that you've gathered all of the necessities it's time to enjoy your drama binge.

잘 지내세요! (Jal jijnaeseyo, Take care)

Seoul, South Korea


About the Creator

Frida Ramos They/her

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