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Korea's Soups Updated: 2011-09-14 00:00:00 KST

At lunch time, the cafeteria at this police station is packed with people looking for a low-priced meal.

The menu includes a variety of basic Korean dishes that are both tasty and nutritious. And among them, one is never off the menu: soup.

[Interview : Shin Gyeong-seung] "You need to have the soup. That's how you pace yourself while eating rice without choking."

[Interview : Kim Jeong-suk] "I can't eat rice without soup. I would choke. Besides, soup has good nutritional value. It's also good for your health."

Korea has one of the most vibrant soup cultures in the world. Koreans love soup so much it is considered one of three staple dishes of Korean cuisine, along with rice and kimchi.

[Interview : Lee Gwi-yeon] "We eat soybean paste soup, seaweed soup, shephard's purse soup, and many other kinds of soup for each season. We also eat hot clam stew. Soup is a beloved food in Korea."

There are many kinds of soup, depending on the ingredients and how it's made. In fact, Korea has the largest variety of soups among world cuisines.

Koreans have had soup ever since the Bronze Age. It's mentioned in various historical documents including Samguksagi, or the History of the Three Kingdoms.

Korean soup boasts over two thousand years of history. Many people say they need soup, either hot or cold, to go with rice. What's so great about their soup[Interview : Myeong Seon-yeong] "I feel very warm when I have soup. And when I think of all the dedication poured into making soup, it also warms my heart for it reminds me of my mom's food."

Korean soup usually takes a long time to prepare to get the right flavors. So nowadays it's not easy to prepare it at home everyday. This created an opportunity for a new business related to soup.

It's the soup delivery service, which brings fresh and vacuum-packed soup to the customer's doorstep every morning. Enjoying soup everyday couldn't get any easier, and depending on the menu, one can try different kinds every day.

[Interview : Byeon yeong-a, Homemaker] "My husband and children don't eat rice without soup. But as you see, it's really troublesome to prepare soup every morning. So it's great we can have it delivered since we can try something different everyday."

Soup is essential in Korean cuisine. However, foreigners often get confused by its complex nature.

[Interview : Paul, Tourist
Uganda] "In Korea, there are a lot of different kinds of food. They have the Korean stew and Korean soup, but it's really kind of difficult to distinguish which is the soup and which is the stew. You can do that if you really know the culture. But if you don't know the culture, it's really kind of difficult for a foreigner to identify."

There are generally two kinds of Korean soup, and they are jjigae [찌개] and guk[국]. They share striking resemblance, but how are they different

[Interview : Lim Mi-ja, Vice Director
Institute of Traditional Korean Food] "The difference between "guk" and "jjigae" is that "guk" has more broth, and "jjigae" has more solid ingredient. "Jjigae" is generally more seasoned than "guk." Finally, "guk" is eating with rice for meals, while "jjigae" can be a side dish that goes with alcoholic beverages."

Popular soups among Koreans are also grabbing the attention of foreigners. These days, foreigners can easily be seen at restaurants like this one in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. They order all kinds of soup, including jjigae and guk. What do they think about the taste

[Interview : Solomon, Diner
Jamaica] "I feel good. It makes my body so hot. I like it."

According to a survey, the most popular Korean soup among foreigners is seulleungtang[설렁탕].

Seulleungtang is made by boiling beef meat and bones a big cauldron. After over six hours, the result is the milky broth of seullengtang.

Unique for its savory and clean taste, seulleungtang is appealing in that it's gentle on the taste buds and anyone can enjoy it.

[Interview : Daniel, Diner
USA] "After eating many times, I feel like this type of meal is refreshing and does provide a lot of energy for me on a very hot summer day."

[Interview : Simon, Diner
New Zealand] "I love the soup culture because of the variations in the flavors, the styles, and also the bits that they use in the soup. I like to eat different soups on different days. If I have been drinking a lot and have a hangover, soups are great cure for that. In the winter, it's perfect. For those really cold days, you come in for hot soup, and it really warm you up. Even in the summer, if you wanna come in and have nice spicy soup, it's really, really good. I love it."

Along with rice and kimchi, soup is one of the three staple dishes in Korean cuisine.

The love for soup is particular among Koreans who eat it on every meal.

We look forward to the future of Korean soup, as it captivates not only Koreans' but the world's taste buds.


Actually in any season soup is so vital. In the summer it cools you down and in the winter it warms you up.
I really like beansprout soup.
It always hits the spot doesn't it.
Yes indeed.
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