Takeaway Trolling: Attack of the Midnight Snack

Working late and staying up late in South Korea is a national sport. Proudly sitting atop the OECD average annual hours worked per worker table, South Koreans allegedly work the longest hours in the developed world, or at least so says this BBC report that plays with the OECD data.

It’s also no secret that South Korean school children undergo hours and hours of after-school cramming to prepare for their dreaded High School exams, with 14-hour days at school not unheard of. Most are expected to attend the much dreaded yaja [야자] or nightly, mandatory-to-attend self-regulated study sessions, and usually well into the midnight hours. All is not lost however for, on the last day of yaja, all that pent-up stress and aggression is released:

And let’s not forget Korea suffers from the highest gap in gender pay, where men often earn a salary worth up to 30% higher than women.

South Korea and Japan topping the gender wage gap

This can mean that the average female Korean office worker has to do much more than just put in extra long hours to supplement her salary. Apparently, one favoured way out is through marriage, hence the constant war of attrition on the sacred Body Mass Index (BMI), a salient factor, whether entering the marriage market or climbing the slippery corporate ladder beneath a shiny glass ceiling. Either way, South Korean women are reported to have one of the lowest BMI among OECD nations, and as such are frequently subject of various fat vs. finance medical studies such as the ones here, here and here.

3 meals a day? That's why you are fat...

3 meals a day? That's why you are fat...

But where do late-night takeaways come into this regional-educational-economic-gender-pay-gap muse? Some argue it has given birth to an obsession. An obsession, with food that has given birth to a massive market for late-night snacks and takeaways. As a result, the widespread culture of yasik [야식], i.e. late-night food is very prominent. South Korean web culture reflects this rather well with the popular wikkolsa [위꼴사], i.e. ‘night terror picture’ blog posts that crop up late at night, targeting vulnerable office workers staying up overnight, students in their yaja classes, and more maliciously, as a means of psychological warfare against dieting sisters (and brothers).

So, if you’ve ever wondered why one of your nearest or dearest have sent you this kind of link late at night, they’re probably just jealous of your wonderful willowy waistline.

The below article is an example of one of these blog posts that attracts so much love and hate from Korean netizens.

From Daum Cafe:

1. Bossam – not greasy at all but high in protein. If you finish it by yourself, you will feel the difference in weight the very next morning.

2. Kimchijeon – When you are hungry but out of money! You open your fridge and make yourself a plate of kimchijeon [Kimchi Pancake] ^^*

Kimchi Pancake

3. Rappoki – Throw all the left-over ingredients in the fridge to make rappoki. Tastes fantastic!


4. Hamburger – If you don’t feel all that Korean… Sliced bread could be used instead of hamburger buns (many people eat hamburgers late at night~)


5. Sweet potato – Steamed potato and kimchi make a fantastic combination~! Nearly everyone in Korea loves sweet potato. ^^* On the side, glutinous corn is also popular.

Sweet potato

6. Steamed bun – The hot steam you get at the first bite~~ and the taste that spreads in your mouth~!

7. Fried chicken – Even if you don’t have numbers for other yasik places, you ALWAYS have a number for fried chicken place. Usually, half fried, half with seasoning…

Fried Chicken

8. Yangpun Bibimbap – Favourite dish of the protagonist in the TV drama My Lovely Sam Soon. Too small a portion in the picture? Yasik goes straight to your waistline.


9. Ramyeon – Easy to cook, and often called ‘the second rice’. When you get munchies at night, this national yasik is the first thing that you will think of. The side effect: you will see your face bloated the next morning…


And a few more. The numbers in the picture represent how many calories each one has~


Comments from Daum:

동방신기 항상 고마워:

They are not yasik to me…


Hah…. Hungry


Not greasy…. not greasy….


Where is jokbal


In my mind fried chicken is number 1…. 234567 are also fried chicken.. I want to eat chicken everyday ㅠㅠ


No gopchang? No chicken feet?


Where is jokbal?? Bossam…..


Ah bossam…


Rappoki so tasty ㅠㅠㅠ


Fried chicken is the truth


Personally bossam over fried chicken ke ke


Waaah, I loved Rose Chocolate…. Where are they nowadays….


I don’t like fried chicken so much, maybe once a year ke ke Ah I want to eat kimchijeon, and sweet potatoes..


I ate a Big Mac meal at 4 in the morning once ke ke ke ke ke ke The next day my entire body was so bloated ke ke ke ke ke ke

Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
  • Men’s Washroom

    I love korean food!

    • Jang

      I don’t mind some of it, just not the same things 3 times a day. BTW, nice food display(the wiggle, wiggle, shakes) but I didn’t build up an appetite – most not very tasty looking.

      Ask a Korean what their hobby is and you’ll often hear “sleeping.” Ask a Korean what he/she did during vacation abroad and you’ll sometimes hear “I ate ______ food.”

      “Most are expected to attend the much dreaded yaja [야자] or nightly, mandatory-to-attend self-regulated study sessions…,”

      Remarkable…”expected” but “mandatory” and “self-regulated.” I guess that prepares them for 3 different bosses telling them a similar thing but in 3 different ways.

  • chucky3176

    Except for the sweet potatoes and bibimbap (without the white rice), all of the food shown in the pictures are junk food that you should stay away from, if you don’t want to get fat.

    I’ve been staying away from those foods for a year now, and have worked towards having only 12% body fat percentage now, down from 26% couple of years ago. And I feel much much more healthier, with less craving for food. Korean food is full of carbs and salt. You need to be careful or you can gain belly weight fairly quickly.

  • Brett Sanbon

    곱창, 닭발, 족발 are all awesome, but I don’t like eating these foods unless there is a bottle of 막걸리 in front of me.

    Personally, sweet potatoes and 아저씨 kimchi are my favorite nighttime snack.

  • h3ll

    Hahaha! they didn´t even bothered in numbered that cake´s calories^^

    • h3ll

      I love sweet potato with maple syrup,yummy!

  • glenn

    I love korean food except the dish wherein you get to have alive octopus ( small ones)…

    • Brett Sanbon

      Do you mean fresh raw octopus/squid that is still moving when it comes to the table? Put a little sesame oil on it with salt. You’ll think you’ve died and arrived in Korean heaven.

      • Nyancat

        i personally love me some bulgogi :D although I don’t think that counts as a late night snack or does it? ^^

  • Stories of butts

    I would not go near those sweet potatoes with a 20 foot fork.

    • Nyancat

      From your name I would assume you have issues with gas? hahaha

  • Paul M

    Damnit I’m hungry now.

  • SuJunk

    2 AM, and this article just about 야식 is already getting on me. Damn nasty heavenly food these are. Help me!!!

    • acorn

      then it has served its purpose :D

Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»