If you're into K-dramas or have an interest in Korean culture you may have noticed some rather unique rituals and traditions Koreans have and regularly take part in. We look into some of these rituals and explain why they exist and what they mean!
1. Couple Outfits/Rings
Many couples in Korea often wear couple outfits - this is known as "couples fashion". It could be described as a trend that keeps on trending. Couple outfits range from matching colors to matching pieces of clothing to - you guessed it - identical outfits. Don't believe us? Check out the pictures below.
Another popular part of couple fashion and culture in Korea is couple rings. Many Korean couples wear matching rings, often in the form of promise rings, to symbolize their commitment to each other.
Why couple outfits?
Just like any other country South Korea has its own cultural and societal norms. Couple culture stands very strongly in South Korea and displays the significance of romantic partnerships in everyday life and people's expectations of life. Couple outfits visually express commitment and dedication to each other in relationships. It shows other people that the couple is also in a relationship. Other reasons include K-pop/K-drama influence, expressions of love, confidence in the relationship, anniversaries and special occasions, and just plain and simple fun!
2. Eating Jeon (전) on a rainy day
On a rainy day in Seoul, a Korean friend advised me to eat "jeon" (전) paired with makgeolli (막걸리) with a boyfriend. I laughed and thought that sounds nice but it's also very specific!
Why do Koreans like to eat Jeon on a rainy day?
Answer: There is no specific reason. It just tastes amazing!
After researching and asking around a few answers came up, including:
Frying jeon sounds similar to rainfall
This one is self-explanatory. Who doesn't love the sound and scent of sizzling, crispy food on the pan? The frying of Jeon in the pan sounds similar to rainfall and brings a sense of comfort and peace to the home and heart on a gloomy day. Therefore, what is better to eat on a rainy day?
Social media influence
Other sources say that eating Jeon on a rainy day became a common practice due to a strong media influence. For example, seeing people in K-dramas consume Jeon on rainy days and how this experience was pleasantly portrayed. Even the picture above of the drama Brilliant Legacy gives such a homely feeling.
This savory, crispy, hot dish is heartwarming. It's filling, flavourful, and somewhat simple making it an untouchable and enjoyable experience. Pair that with Makgeolli (막걸리) and you have the perfect day, making the gloomy, rainy day warm and comforting.
Historically, Koreans used seasonal ingredients that were readily available to them. Rainy seasons often bring fresh greens and vegetables, which can be used to make jeon. So, it's also practical to make this dish during rainy periods when such ingredients are abundant. Another source also said that it's helpful to be able to make Jeon from anything they can find in their pantry - it makes it easier than having to go out in the rain and buy ingredients!
Tradition & Superstition
Korean culture is rich in traditions and superstitions, and eating certain foods on specific days is a common practice. Rainy days are considered somewhat gloomy, and Jeon is believed to bring joy and light to these days. The round shape of the Jeon is also said to symbolize the sun, which can help ease the darkness of rainy weather.
Here's a super easy and delicious Jeon recipe you can try next time it rains:
SIMPLY KOREAN: How to make the crispiest ever Kimchi pancake 'KIMCHI JEON' 김치전 - Choibites YouTube
3. Gender-Specific Foods & Flavours
This topic has not been documented considerably but it's noticeable in a lot of Korean media! I know in Western culture there can be certain foods that are perceived as "girly" but I think this pertains to its appearance rather than flavor. In Korea, there are notable differences in terms of specific flavors and foods regardless of their appearance. For example, Tteokbokki (떡볶이) is considered a more "feminine" food and other foods such as Jeyuk bokkeum (제육볶음) on Sundaeguk (순대국) are considered more "masculine". There are some flavors taken in this way, for example, rose flavor is considered to be more feminine and preferred by women.
Reasons for this?
There are many reasons to consider for gender-specific foods and flavors, however the two most notable reasons were:
Korean culture, like many others, has long-standing gender expectations and stereotypes. Certain foods may be associated with qualities deemed masculine or feminine. For example, spicy and strong-flavored foods might be considered more suitable for men, while milder and more delicate flavors might be associated with women.
Marketing and Advertising
In some cases, food products and advertisements have perpetuated gender-specific flavors and foods as a marketing strategy. This can reinforce existing stereotypes and expectations.
Now you know a little more about Korean rituals! Every culture has its own rituals. Do you know any other Korean rituals or do you have any of these in your own culture? Comment below to let us know!