The hottest days of the summer in Korea are referred to as the three bok days, or the sambok, and the first hottest day of the summer this year, Chobok, fell on July 17.
Summer has now officially begun in Korea.
The Chinese character for the word bok represents a person kneeling down like a dog, and it means "to helplessly obey the summer heat," or so they say. Chobok, the first hot day, then leads to the middle hottest day, Joongbok, and then to the final hottest day of the summer, Malbok.
Spanning a total of 40 days, these three marker days are called the sambok because they bracket what are traditionally the hottest days of the year on the Korean Peninsula.
As Chobok food is becoming more varied over time, people look for cool foods rather than eating hot foods that supposedly "control the heat with more heat."
Chogyetang is a chilled chicken dish that has a tangy taste and is considered a summertime specialty. (Institute of Traditional Korea Food)
Along with seasonal summer foods, healthy and invigorating ingredients, such as kingfish, eel, duck and abalone, show differences in certain food trends. The tangy and refreshing taste of chogyeguksu, a dish made of cold noodles served in a chilled chicken broth, and chogyetang, a chilled chicken dish served with shredded chicken and vegetables, help revive taste buds that have been "exhausted" by the heat wave.
People used to fight the heat and revive their energy by boiling up some samgyetang ginseng chicken soup filled with glutinous rice, garlic, rice, jujubes and ginseng. Whenever a heat wave warning was issued, samgyetangrestaurants were filled to the brim with diners.
In consideration of the modern world, easy to cook, smaller "instant samgyetang" packs are gaining popularity. All the ingredients are packed and prepared beforehand to boil in a pot for one person to eat. Convenience has improved while cutting down on portion size. One Seoul shopper, Lee Minseon (24), who buys instant samgyetangfrom time to time, says, "Cooking samgyetang at home just for myself can be quite a fuss. Instant samgyetang is easy to cook and delicious."
People's perceptions of eating healthy food has also changed. Since one can easily buy invigorating food at the market, there is no need to eat it only at certain times of the year. Another hungry shopper, Park Jaemin (33), an office worker in Seoul, says, "I eat well day-to-day, so I don't feel the need to eat invigorating food on certain days. Also, I prefer a generally healthy diet instead of only a few high-calorie, energy-boosting meals."
Foods that have supposedly 'invigorating' ingredients, like samgyetang ginseng chicken soup, are becoming more diverse in markets around the country