Why Do Koreans Eat Hot Soup During Summer?

Comparison of the average highest temperature of Seoul in mid-July

Korea gets REALLY HOT in summer. Some places even go up to, at their highest, 40 degrees Celsius. You can literally cook eggs on the ground outside!

However, Koreans love to eat hot food in summer

Korean ancestors, back in the days, wisely figured out how to overcome this madness when there was no AC : Eating hot food in summer. Well, it sounds counterintuitive, right?

삼복 (Sambok; the three dog days of summer) is three hottest days of summer in Korea, traditionally

삼복 (Sambok; the three dog days of summer) is three hottest days of summer in Korea, traditionally. The days are between June and July in Lunar calendar at intervals of around 10-20 days. On these very hot days, Koreans eat steaming, boiling hot, nutritious, and high-protein food to recover from the heatwave.

  • 초복 (chobok) : the first day of the three dog days
  • 중복 (jungbok) : the second day of the three dog days
  • 말복 (malbok) : the third and last day of the three dog days

What does it mean by “the three dog days”?

Sirius, also called the Dog Star, rises like the sun on three days of 삼복 (sambok). The ancestors thought this bright Sirius caused the heatwave, so they named it after Sirius.

삼계탕, Samgyetang (chicken soup with ginseng)

The most representative food that Koreans eat on the three dog days of summer is 삼계탕 (pronounced sam-gye-tang), a soup made with young chicken, ginseng, glutinous rice, jujube, chestnut, garlic, and more. It’s full of protein, nutritious, energy-boosting, and, most importantly, delicious!

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