중앙데일리

An oasis of nostalgia

After work, Koreans unwind in tent eateries

Oct 05,2003
The following is a tip on traditional Korean language and customs in response to a query from a Mr. O’Cleary, who wrote to us from Seoul:

Q. Mr. O’Cleary:
In Seoul, it seems when offices and stores close around sundown, the city turns into a street cart fair where office workers drink and eat. I’m tempted to try one of these informal eateries, but after seeing some women washing dishes behind the tent in a bucket of water, I hesitated. Don’t Koreans care about the sanitary condition of these meals? Is it safe to try street food in Korea?

A. IHT-JAD:
Koreans adore tent eateries, popularly known as pojangmacha, because they get a nostalgic feeling for how it was in the old days, even if they can find a cleaner restaurant next door. They are no doubt aware of the less-than-ideal sanitary conditions, but they usually drink soju, the Korean liquor, together with simple side dishes, which are grilled, roasted or boiled, so they don’t seem to mind. Korean city officials have tried for years to ban the presence of street carts in an attempt to modernize both the streets and lifestyle, but Koreans’ penchant for nostalgia lives on.


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