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New Year Resolutions and Diet

Happy New Year to everybody! One of my two resolutions this year is to eat less meat. I will keep on eating fish, but try to cut out as much red meat and poultry as possible. Whenever I am in Korea I get taken out to restaurants, and even at my parent’s home, I am shocked at how much more and frequent the meat (not including fish) consumption has become, compared to say, 10,20 years ago. Also, I notice how obese some of the kids in primary schools (as well as unruly) have become..
So it is very surprising to find Korea as an example nation where the increase in wealth has not led to the corresponding increase in obesity in this BBC piece . You can play the video, and listen to what the market ajummas have to say. One thing that was not dubbed over properly I note is that one of them mentions 짜장면 (Chajang-myun) , or Joonghwa Yori (Chinese-Korean restaurant food) as unhealthy food, as well as Western food. This has always been true, as 중화요리 is known for using a lot of oil and frying..so if you want to stay thin, less 철가방 chul-kabang(metal-bag) delivery is in order.

Speaking of Chinese delivery, I saw that they were getting people ready for the new street-name based address system when I was in Korea 2 months ago, and now that it has come into effect from this year, a lot of Koreans are complaining, including the delivery restaurants. Is it affecting any of you?

Finally, another BBC, diet-related item which says that intermittent fasting if good for your body. My late grandpa who was a real stickler to doing everything to live long and healthy (and he did) really abided by 소식(soshik, eating little).

  • Dan Strickland

    Speaking of 소식, you might check in with Tom Coyner – he’s discovered that guys our age who sit at a desk/computer most of the day really need very little in the way of food, and he’s now slim and svelte to prove it. Parenthetically, he claims he was ‘morbidly obese’ pre- 소식, although as a (retired) epidemiologist who used to live in the US midwest, I found that hard to believe.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    I think another related issue could be the widespread use of public transport in countries. I know that the car culture is very strong in Korea, but compared to the people in the US, a lot more Koreans still use the public transport and walking from the station to the destination is the most exercise I do (as well as window-shopping and taking the dog for long off-leash walks)

  • cactusmcharris

    You want diet discussion of the dog-eats-man variety? Hey, turnabout is fair play. http://gawker.com/kim-jong-un-fed-his-uncle-alive-to-120-ravenous-dogs-r-1493791256

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    That’s just disgusting. Some humans are just the worst evil scums of the earth, makes me sad to be one.

  • cactusmcharris

    Yes, but the dogs at least got fed – that’s the important thing.

  • will.i.aint

    I saw that they were getting people ready for the new street-name based address system when I was in Korea 2 months ago, and now that it has
    come into effect from this year, a lot of Koreans are complaining, including the delivery restaurants. Is it affecting any of you?

    For restaurant deliveries – you just give them your apartment complex name and room number. So the new address system doesn’t factor in when ordering food for delivery.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Maybe it applies more to people who don’t live in apartment complexes:

    http://media.daum.net/society/others/newsview?newsid=20131128210907214

    This report actually tries to test it out using the old address at a Chinese delivery and they say could you give the old address..
    It starts off with “Changing an address that has been in use for over 100 years since the Japanese occupation”..seriously, there is something wrong in the head of Korean people who make these decisions..always changing something for the worse.

  • will.i.aint

    The funny part to me is that they have given names to anything and everything that could even remotely be considered a road – to include tiny golmoks that just link to other tiny golmoks – even those that are only large enough for pedestrian traffic and don’t have any houses on them.

  • Dan Strickland

    Sounds correct to me, Yuna – I suspect Koreans still do a fair bit more walking than your typical US type. And probably don’t whine as much while doing it. By the way, thanks for a new phrase – for whatever reason I’ve never heard 철가방 – I like it.

  • Aja Aja

    The NPR has that story, and it is a false story.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/01/03/259386090/did-kim-jong-un-feed-his-uncle-to-120-dogs-be-skeptical

    So it looks like Korean papers aren’t the only ones who print false stories without checking out the sources.

  • Richard Hawkes

    I recognise the “porridge” lady in the video. This must be the market in Jongno. It’s good pumpkin 죽.

  • ryuNchoosk

    NPR asked whether it was true and told its readers to be skeptical and suspicious. Some have reported what the Wen Wei Po said, that’s it. So yeah, Chinese newspapers do like S. Korean mainstream media. Nice try Aja Aja.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Obesity hasn’t gone up in Korea? That’s nonsense. Like you point out, there are plenty of kids who are obese. My son is probably the only kid in his class who’s not overweight (he practices sports at least 2 hours a day).

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Even worse than S.Korean mainstream. I’d heard it via Cactus’s comment for the first time, and usually I screen Korean media portals pretty carefully, and there was nothing of the sort. Maybe now it might start to circulate, after it’s been dismissed.

  • Juniper

    Yuna, congrats on the New Year’s rez but it ain’t the meat eating that’s making the kiddies little fattie-mc-fat-fats, it’s the carbs. Watch the high school girls with calves like a caveman’s club and see what they’re eating when they raid the supers on study breaks.

  • Aja Aja

    What did I exactly try?

  • Dan Strickland

    There is some research developing on obesity in Korea, and general agreement that it is on the rise. I’m a retired epidemiologist/med school prof and bring in mokolee money copy-editing medical articles. The main problem is the research here is young, so they tend to rely for background on US publications, where the problem is very different – even the BMI cutpoints for obesity are different for Koreans vs Americans. Right now the research is not in the hypothesis testing phase, but earlier on, in the descriptive, exploratory phase. There’s a lot of anecdotal stuff – carbs, meat, lack of exercise – but the science supporting those isn’t there yet. Part of the problem that I see in papers I edit is a lack of PhD biostatisticians supporting the primary authors.

  • http://f5waeg.blogspot.com/ F5Waeg

    pics from your twitter feed and flickr or it didn’t happen

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    You are probably right, just a unhealthy diet in general, but meat eating has also definitely increased in Korea..and I am not on the cut-out the meat thing for my figure either..

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Impressive.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    on top of which, 무다리 (mudari, having daikon legs) is more genetic/exercise caused than diet…

  • 8675309

    I’m sure — for whatever reasons — there are a lot of Korean phrases that you’ve never heard of, and that you probably will never hear of. That said, just b/c you’ve never heard of them doesn’t mean they’re not in common usage or that they’re relatively standardized and well-known.

  • will.i.aint

    Foreign language acquisition works in funny ways. You’ve probably heard this phrase many times before – but it just never registered. But now that you know what it means – it will not only register when you hear it — you’ll hear it a lot more often than you ever would have imagined.

  • will.i.aint

    They say the exact same thing in Japan ~ there’s even a youtube vid about it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnLyjMUpXT0

  • Dan Strickland

    No doubt you’re right, to both you and will.i.aint. It keeps life entertaining.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Its not the meat, Yuna, its the carbs and sugars that will make you fat. Cut out as much rice, bread, potatoes, baked goods, juices, soft drinks out of your diet. Eat fish, meat, vegetables and drink plenty of water.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Thanks for your advice salaryman.
    I am not doing it to lose weight, I am probably already a little underweight, and I don’t want to get any thinner. I used “diet” in the title more in the sense of what you eat rather than the other common usage. I already don’t drink soft drink or juice because of acid stomach (except beer), and I am continuing to eat fish and other seafood, even meat once in a while I might eat, it’s just that I realized that we are eating meat 2 meals a day and it seemed a bit too much.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    What I said applies also to people looking to have a healthy, long term diet and lifestyle. Avoid carbs and sugars as much as possible.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    If you want to see why people in Korea are fat now, it is no secret. Look in the snacks sections, look at the alcohol consumption and the sedentary rate.

  • 8675309

    Just for the sake of argument, to counter your you’ve-probably-heard-this-phrase-many-times-before-but-it-never-registered theory, I would say the odds of that occurring are next to nil.

    Consider this: Assuming one is completely literate in Korean — which for a foreigner is no small feat — in order for your theory to work, said foreigner would have to be surrounded by Koreans AND close Korean kin speaking unadulterated Korean to you — and at you — 24/7, at home, at work, and every place in between, while being simultaneously saturated or bombarded every waking hour of your day with Korean-language small talk, broadcasts, Korean-language entertainment, Korean-language media, Korean-language television, Korean-language radio, Korean-language newspapers, Korean-language magazines, Korean-language books, Korean-language education, Korean-language Internet, etc., for a significant portion of your life to be considered really conversant in Korean in an up-to-date fashion befitting a native or near-native Korean speaker.

    Without that kind of constant and consistent sociolinguistic support and a strong cultural framework, there’s just a whole lot of the language — particularly everything — to include common usage expressions, abbreviations, figures of speech, slang, etc., that even the most intense foreigner and die-hard Korean-language student will never pick up, let alone be exposed to or have a chance to know in their lifetime, i.e., unless they have no life and nothing better to do.

  • will.i.aint

    Based on Dan Strickland saying, “thanks for a new phrase – for whatever reason I’ve never heard 철가방…” I think it’s safe to say that he is somewhat familiar with the Korean language and he has some sort of interaction with the language … be it by watching tv, hanging with Koreans, or whatever.

    Based on my own experience, you couldn’t be any more wrong about something not registering –> you somehow learn about a new word or phrase –> and then you hear it again and again later on. And this has been the case for me while living in Korea, and while outside of Korea. Maybe I just have a really good ear for Korean …