중앙데일리

Birthday broth

Sea kelp soup marks another year

June 29,2003
The following is a tip on traditional Korean language and customs in response to a query from a Mr. Fullerton, who wrote to us from Seoul:

Q. Mr. Fullerton:
On my birthday last week, a female student at my language institute brought me a thermos full of a Korean-style soup. It was called miyeokguk, or sea kelp soup. That was at seven in the morning. Later in the evening when I went home, a Korean landlady living upstairs gave me the same thing. So it wasn’t hard to figure out eating miyeokguk was an important Korean custom, but frankly I didn’t much care for the taste of it.

Do Koreans celebrating birthdays eat that stuff all day? I’d like to know some more about this custom.

A. IHT-JAD:
Traditionally Koreans are served miyeokguk as a birthday meal, which can be any of three meals in a day. Because many Koreans find a traditional rice-and-soup breakfast wholesome, they prefer to eat the soup in the morning. The custom dates all the way back to a 10th-century Korean folk belief that pregnant or lactating mothers should eat sea kelp, which is rich in calcium and iodine.


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