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.
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.
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] ^^*
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.
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…
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…
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…..
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..