My Daily Pandemic Life in Korea
What it takes to order a coffee
안녕하세요, it’s Ari, your friendly Korean source and your TGIF reminder🎉 Today’s newsletter is about a fantasy K-Drama recommendation, what it takes to order a coffee in Korea during pandemic, and a vegetarian winter food recipe.
📢 The Legit Korean newsletter and podcast will be delivered biweekly from today due to preparing for my new year project. I’m planning to open a virtual Korean restaurant/café where you order in Korean☕ You’ll be the first to know when it opens :D Plz look forward to it!
👽 Are you a fantasy romance lover?
My Love From the Star or 별에서 온 그대 is a LEGENDARY K-Drama. This fantasy-romcom drama was a huge-hit throughout Asia at the time of airing in 2013. The series made 치맥 (fried chicken with beer) trending in China. It’s a funny & sad love story between an alien man who came to Earth 400 years ago and an arrogant-but-cute top actress. It’s one of the two best winter K-Dramas along with Goblin. Available on Viki.
☕ My daily pandemic life in Korea
I went to a Starbucks last week with my friend. As soon as we entered the door, an employee asked us for vaccine pass. Starting from December, all visitors are required to show their vaccine pass or negative test result certificate (which was tested within 48 hours before visit) to an employee at cafés and restaurants. Me and my friend showed her our passes in our smartphones and scanned the QR code of the passes👆 on the QR code reader before ordering a coffee. (When I scanned, the reader said, “14 days passed after fully vaccinated,” which means I’m cleared.) After getting our coffees, we went to take a seat. Most of seats were taken but it was not crowded. I could see some chairs and tables piled up at a corner to make rooms for social distancing. As I was having a latte and chat for about an hour, I could hear a broadcast reminding people to wear a face mask when not drinking and to cooperate employees when asked for vaccine pass.
It’s been only about a month since South Korea started vaccine pass in places like cafés and restaurants. But vaccine pass is quickly widening and tightening as Omicron spreads in the country. Now the unvaccinated cannot go to high-risk places like gyms, movie theaters and department stores. They also cannot go to cafés and restaurants in groups. They can only go there when visiting alone or for picking up to-go orders. I heard that in some countries, there are vaccine mandates at work. But in South Korea, workers are not yet required to be vaccinated. I believe it’s because the vaccination rate is already high so we don’t need the mandates.
As of January 5th, 83.2% of the total of 51 million population is fully vaccinated without booster shot and 37.7% of South Koreans is fully vaccinated with booster shot. 93.9% of adults aged over 18 is fully vaccinated without booster. My parents got boosters and I get my booster next week.
South Korea is one of the first countries that hit by the outbreak in early 2020. It’s been almost two years now so I got used to a new pandemic life including wearing a mask and getting a shot from time to time. And I never had anyone around me got Covid. I thought everything’s okay. But then late November when the number of daily cases was growing in the country, I got a text from my best friend saying, “I got Covid.” She was one of the few people I know that are not vaccinated. I felt guilty for not persuading her enough to get shots for fear of having arguments. She got really sick and admitted to a hospital with ventilator. But thankfully, she left hospital after 11 days and now she’s healthy as ever.
In Korea, when something bad happens at the beginning of a new year, we take it as a good sign that the new year will be a great year. We call it 새해 액땜 which is a kind of superstition believing early bad luck shields people from future bad luck throughout the year. We’re starting a new year with record-breaking number of daily cases around the world. But according to 새해 액땜, it’s a good sign that we’ll have a great new year. Stay safe & Happy New Year!
🍲 Tofu Soybean Paste Soup
된장 or soybean paste is Koreans’ soul food ingredient. It’s a fermented bean paste. We make sauces, soups, salads, and many other food with it. If I pick two food Koreans can’t live without, they’ll be this soybean paste and kimchi. Today, I want to introduce a soybean paste food that you’ll love especially during cold days. It’s 두부강된장 or tofu soybean paste soup. If you’re a K-Food lover, you probably know 된장찌개 or soybean paste soup. 된장찌개 and 강된장 are similar but the former is watery soup and the latter is thick soup with much less water. Since 강된장 is thick, we often put it on top of rice and mix them together. If you add some leafy vegetables in it, it becomes bibimbap. If you’re on a diet, you can put it on steamed cabbage instead of rice. If you add tofu to 강된장, it becomes 두부강된장. Tofu goes very well with the soybean paste. It’s a perfect vegetarian winter food that will warm your stomach :D Check out the list of ingredients👇, watch a cooking video☝, and try for yourself!
1/3 Green onion
1 1/2 Peppers
3 Tablespoons Korean soybean paste
1 Tablespoon Korean pepper paste (can be omitted)
1 Tablespoon Oligo rice syrup (can be replaced with sugar)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon pepper powder
Thanks for reading! If you liked my newsletter, ❤ or share it to make my day :D or support me by buying my Korean vocabulary exercise book. It’s available on my shop (e-book) and Amazon (paperback). Use discount code ‘happynewyear’ to get 15% off when you buy an e-book.
Leave a question or what you want to know about Korean culture/news/trends in comments! See you the week after next! 안녕👋