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Why Koreans love chimaek (chicken & beer), and eat pajeon & makgeolli on rainy days?

yangnyeom chicken 양념치킨 seasoned fried chicken
디디치킨 http://www.ddck.co.kr/


Fried chicken, a meal/snack which Koreans love so much, to the point of giving birth to a newly-coined word chineunim 치느님 “Chicken God (“fried chicken is the real deal”).” Korean Fried Chicken (“KFC“) is also popular outside Korea and among those visiting Korea. When Chun Song-yi’s said, “Chimaek 치맥 (“chicken and beer” because maekju 맥주 means beer) on snowy days…” in the mega-hit K-Drama Byeoleso On Geudae 별에서 온 그대 (My Love from the Star, SBS, 2013), the reaction from the Chinese viewers was beyond incredible.

Cheon Song-yi 천송이 (by 전지현 Jeon Ji-hyeon) from Byeoleso On Geudae 별에서 온 그대 (My Love from the Star, SBS, 2013)

KFC now means “Korean Fried Chicken”!

People lined up in front of Korean fried chicken restaurants in Shanghai, and the Chimaek Festival in Ningbo, China, attracted over 460,000 visitors over 4 days. Did I mention there is a popular tourist spot called the  “Chicken Camp” in Korea where you can try Korean Fried Chicken in many different ways?

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Korean fried chicken also has been capturing the picky taste buds of American diners the birthplace of fried chicken, with unique flavors like soy-sauce and gochujang

Kyochon Chicken
Trying Korean fried chicken For The First Time! 반반치킨을 처음 먹어본 [영국에서 온 감탄식객] 01

Then why did the fried chicken get so much love in Korea? People say that chicken is a “community food” that is shared with others. At the same time, it’s also capturing the needs of the lone-diners who are rapidly rising in numbers, as another newly coined term “1 person 1 chicken” proves its point. To sum it all up, the popularity of Korean fried chicken is a result of both traditional and modern Korean dining culture, fueled by convenience (delivery!) and the help of beer (what doesn’t taste good with a can of ice-cold beer?).

Or, you can turn regular fried chicken into Korean Fried Chicken with these KPOP Foods Variety Sauce Set -KPOP Gochujang Sauce, Kimchi Spicy Mayo, Honey Glaze Chili Garlic [Amazon]


If it were a rainy day, Cheon Song-yi would have said, “pajeon 파전 (pancake) and makgeolli 막걸리 (rice wine) on rainy days…” While the chimaek and snowy days are more of a marketing catch phrase to promote the fried chicken consumption, the pajeon and makgeolli combo has been a long time Korean favorite.

pajeon and makgeolli!

As to the origin, there are many theories because it’s not clearly recorded in the history book, but these are some of the most plausible ones. The first theory is that it’s the result of the “effect of association.” The sound of the rain is similar to the sizzling sound of a pancake making, so when it rains, pajeon automatically comes to your mind. The second theory has to do with traditional agricultural culture. When the farmers were not able to work due to the rain, especially during the rainy season of Summer, they made pajeon to soothe their hunger and accompanied it with makgeolli, a farmer’s favorite drink. Naturally, it became a seasonal food, and the tradition must have been passed down to this day.

“Lunch” Album of Genre Paintings by Danwon Kim Hong-do

No Korean restaurant nearby to enjoy Korean pancake and makgeolli on a rainy day? Don’t worry! You can make your own with the following products.

Kisoondo Kimchi Pancake (Pack of 4) – Breakfast Meal, Healthy Snack, Korean Food [Amazon]

Ditok Craft Makgeolli (3L) Starter Powder – for Brewing Traditional Korean Rice Liquor [Amazon]

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