Thursday, July 08, 2010


The topic of discussion was smell. My teacher started talking about '청국장' (Cheonggukjang, fast-fermented bean paste). He pointed to a place in Cheongnyangni which sells very good '청국장찌개' (Cheonggukjang Stew). He was seen (or pretending to) wiping away his drool as he went about describing how delicious the dish was. I could not imagine myself enjoying it in any way despite some convincing 'sales talk' by my teacher. 'Cheonggukjang', like smelly tofu, is notorious for its strong 'stench'. A must-try for those who are adventurous with food.

From Cheonggukjang's smell, we moved on to talk about people and smell. It was a rather sensitive topic to dwell on, especially when you have to associate certain people to certain smell. One misstep and you may get people calling you a chauvinist or racist. However, the discussion was meant to be taken in good faith. It was meant to be some sort of a cultural exchange.

My teacher, a Korean, started the ball rolling by saying that Koreans have the smell of '마늘' (garlic). The baton was passed next to my Japanese classmate who gave a rather decent answer. She said Japanese have the smell of '간장' (soy sauce).

My Chinese classmate was next in line.

"중국은 너무 커서 지역에 따라..." (China is very big, depending on the region...), before my Chinese classmate could finish her sentence, my teacher interrupted.

"...냄새도 달라요.", (... the smell also differs) my teacher completed the sentence. The cause of my teacher's behaviour had to do with him hearing too much of the same old answer. Such is the Chinese students' dilemma. Because of the size and cultural diversity of their country, whatever answer they give will hardly be representative.

When it was my turn to speak, I gave a very frank answer but I won't reveal it here. Instead, I will write what I would have wanted to say, "싱가폴의 경우에는 인간미가 강하죠!" (In the case of Singapore, the smell of humanity is very strong, don't you think so?). I hope we will arrive there one day, the sooner the better. '인간미' (人間味) is what we should strive for and not the smell of some metal.


  1. I LOVE 청국장~~~~

    do they have it in sg???

  2. 아마, 있을걸요.

  3. 근데...인간미는 코로 맡을 수 없잖아요? ^^ 반칙입니다.

  4. 근데...제 잘못이 아닙니다.
    왜 인간에 꼭 미를 삽입해야 하는지 저도 궁금합니다. ^^

  5. 안녕하세요~! 우와. 경희의 수업은 재밌는 것 같아요. 우리는 이런 얘기를 하지 않아요. >.<
    배치 시험을 보고 저 6급에 갔어요. ㅠㅠ
    너무 황당하죠. ;;

    맨날 스크레스가 많이 받고 있어요. 흑. ㅠㅠ
    반 친구들이 다 재미교포인데 한국말 완전히 짱이에요. >.<

  6. 야, 금요일밤인데 왜 숙소에서 댓글을 남기니?
    명동이나 남산 타워에 가야지.
    스트레스도 말고 시간 낭비도 말고 즐거운 일들만 하라.
    짧은 동안 한국에 있으니.

  7. 청국장찌개 ~ not sure if this is the one, but I've tried something close to what you've described at Togi Korean Restaurant at Mosque Street. The smell reminds me of some laundry that wasn't completely dried or well sunned. Very off-putting. In it are some fermented beans, kimchi and thinly sliced pork. Despite the smell, the taste was actually quite good. Very satisfying when eaten with a bowl of steaming korean rice.

  8. I think it should be since nothing smell that 'bad'. With so much rave reviews, I think I should give 청국장 a try someday. Talk about Togi, I last visited it 2 years ago. Time flies.