Korean Fried Chicken's History
Tragic but yummy 😋
안녕하세요, it’s Ari, your friendly Korean source and weekend reminder 🎉 Today’s newsletter is about a mini history class with fried chicken, a rap lyric from No More Dream by BTS, and a healthy egg recipe. Let’s start!
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🍗 Korean fried chicken’s history
Have you heard about 치맥? 치 came from ‘fried chicken’ and 맥 came from 맥주 meaning beer. It refers to a paring of fried chicken and beer which is a super popular food combination in South Korea. It’s so popular that there’s even a festival devoted to this combination in Daegu, a Southern city in SK. If you’re into Korean food or culture, I believe you heard about or even tried 치맥. But do you know why fried chicken that is not originated from SK got so popular here?
Chicken has been loved by Koreans for a long time. Our ancestors enjoyed boiled chicken (닭백숙) or chicken soup (삼계탕). We didn’t have fried chicken until U.S. military entered Korean peninsula for Korean War in 1950. After the war, fried chicken was introduced to public and many kinds of Korean style fried chicken were born including 양념치킨 (☝, left) which is a fried chicken slathered in sweet and spicy sauce.
However, fried chicken was just one of many delicious food for Koreans until another tragic event happened. In 1997, South Korea was on the verge of going bankrupt. On the outside, there was Asian financial crisis and on the inside, the government failed to keep enough foreign exchange to keep running the country. So (It’s so hard for me to explain this 🤯 so I borrowed words from Wikipedia 👉) the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Monetary Fund on December 3, 1997. The IMF required for the introduction of policies such as fiscal and financial austerity, high-interest rates, the dissolution of chaebols, layoffs and floating exchange rates as conditions for bailouts, and the Korean government, which had to prevent the nation from going bankrupt immediately, was forced to accept those demands. As a result, corporate bankruptcies, mass unemployment and the crisis in the real economy accelerated further. (End of Wikipedia) It’s called IMF crisis in the country.
Though we were able to graduate the crisis early in 2001, the impact was huge. Because of massive layouts, a lot of breadwinners lost their jobs and couldn’t find new jobs. So many of them had to find a way to make a living. What they found was to open a fried chicken restaurant because opening it doesn’t cost a lost of money and preparations compared to other restaurants. As a result, the country got full of fried chicken places and the food became super popular. We have about 87,000 friend chicken restaurants according to a 2019 statistic. It’s more than twice a number of McDonald’s worldwide (about 37,000). So Korean’s love for fried chicken is no joke even though it’s a symbol of some tragic historical events.
I want to finish this writing with a small but important chicken eating etiquette. If you go eat any chicken food with Koreans, say 닭다리 드세요 meaning “Have a chicken leg/drumstick, please.” Because Koreans’ love for this chicken part is no joke, you will be seen as a super kind and considerate person who can give up the best part for others.
🎤 Mic Drop- No More Dream by BTS
No More Dream is my favorite BTS song! It’s full of lyrics many students can relate to. One of them is,
알았어 엄마, 지금 독서실 간다니까
It means, “Okay mom, I’m going to the library now.” It’s a typical word that Korean students say to their mom 😅 Though 독서실 is translated as ‘library,’ it’s not the kind of the place you think it is. It’s a place full of cubicles instead of books. Korean students used to go there to study especially during exams. Many years have passed since the song was released in 2013, so things have changed. Korean students now go to 스터디카페 or ‘study cafe’ which is often shortened as 스카. It’s basically a fancy 독서실 where students can study and drink coffee. If No More Dream came out in 2022, the lyric would be like, 알았어 엄마, 지금 스카 간다니까.
Words in the lyric,
👄 You can practice speaking the lyric on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other your favorite podcast platforms. Don’t forget to send me your speaking 👇 If you send it by May 4th, Wednesday 6pm ET, your voice will be on the next week’s podcast!
🍳 Gyeran jjim
If you’re a K-Food lover, you must’ve heard about tteukbaegi, Korean stone bowl. It’s an essential kitchen tool that makes hot food look and taste more delicious including doenjang jjigae, dolsot bibimbap, and gyeran jjim which is a today’s food. Gyeran jjim or 계란찜 is basically steamed egg. It takes only about 10 mins to make. You can add some vegetables like chopped green onion or carrot or both. If you like spicy food like me, add chopped hot peppers. If you don’t have tteukbaegi, you can replace it with any small pot you have. Watch the cooking video ☝ and try for yourself!
Thanks for reading! If you liked my newsletter, ❤👇, share, or leave a comment. Don’t forget to send me your voice message and visit my virtual McDonald’s where you can practice how to order in Korean 🍔🍟🥤 This week’s challenge is to change or cancel part of your order. It opens between 5:30 to 6:30 pm Sunday ET on Twitter (audio chat).
📢 I take a break next week! See you the week after next :D 안녕!