Why Squid Game Was Born in Korea
And BTS Jin's kimchi fried rice
안녕하세요, it’s Ari, your friendly Korean source and your weekend reminder🎉 Today’s newsletter is about why Squid Game was born in Korea, BTS Jin’s Instagram post, and an Instagram-worthy Korean food recipe. Let’s start!
👋 What Up Korea?
This is why Squid Game was born in Korea
When I first watched Squid Game, I thought it was just fun. I didn’t really think seriously about the message of the show until I watched a video of a presidential candidate of my country.
In less than three months, South Korea will have the 20th Presidential election. We have two dominant political parties, one is Democratic party, the current ruling & liberal party, and the other is People Power party, the conservative one. I watched a video of a candidate from People Power party. He was answering a question from a journalist about minimum wage. He has been saying that he will abolish? minimum wage. In the video, he said, “Because the minimum monthly wage is locked at about 1,500 USD or 1,700 USD1, it takes away people’s right to work under minimum wage. What do we do if a person wants to work on 1,300 USD?” (I changed the currency for easy understanding and you read it right🙃)
You must be dumbfounded by the words from the front runner candidate. But when I watched him saying, I was ‘disappointed but not surprised.’ His mindset, his attitude toward workers at the bottom is what this country has been built on and it reminded me why Squid Game was born in my country. In a NPR article, Korean TV critic Kim Seonyeong said,
The set design of Squid Game shows players like products on store shelves. I think it reflects how brutal the South Korean society is toward people at the bottom and how the economically weak are treated without dignity in capitalist society.
I can’t agree more. As the country’s economy grew fast from poverty to the 10th largest economy, low wage workers have been left in poor and deadly environment. What’s worrying is that there’s a narrative that people at the bottom ‘deserve’ to live the bottom. The narrative is like, “You failed to go to a good college, then you deserve to be underpaid and work and live in poor environment.” The candidate from People Power party is a representative of this narrative shared by a fair amount of Koreans. Among his words, “The current work hour limit (52 hours a week) should be lifted so that people can work 120 hours a week when they want,” “We should loosen food safety regulation to provide poor people with cheap low-quality food.”
Squid Game will hit you differently if you know about the two Korean presidential candidates. The front runner is a son of rich family who says poor people deserve low-quality food that doesn’t even meet safety standards. The second runner is a handicapped man from a poor family. His family was so poor that he became a child factory worker at 12. His left arm is twisted from press machine accident. His campaign promises are the opposite of the front runner. Both passed the bar and after many years, they’re running for President. In many ways, the upcoming election feels like a real-life sequel of Squid Game. It feels like a fight between (⚠️Spoiler alert) one of animal-masked people and Seong Gi-hun who survived the hell in the series.
I’ll let you know the winner in three months. Wish me and my country luck🙏🙃
📺 Learn Korean with Jin’s Instagram Post (2021)
I assume you all know that BTS, the biggest K-Pop group in history, is recently taking over Instagram. After revealing their personal accounts last week, BTS’s V became the fastest user to reach 1 million and 10 million followers on the platform, confirmed by Guinness World Records. They are posting their private life photos and leaving comments to each other, which is just adorable to watch💜 Among them, I found a good Korean quote to use for my newsletter. BTS’s Jin, the chief chef in the group, uploaded a photo of 김치볶음밥☝, Kimchi fried rice with a caption saying,
The quote means, “I’m so bored.” Today, let’s learn about the word, 심심하다. It has three meanings: to be bored, to be bland (taste), to be deep (heart). I made three Korean sentences using the three meanings of the word. Check them out,
심심해 죽겠다. I’m sooooo bored.2
(김치볶음밥)이 좀 심심해요. (Kimchi fried rice) tastes a little bland.
심심한 위로를 전합니다. My deep condolences for you.
🎤 Rap your Korean
Send me your Korean voice message! If you’re a beginner Korean learner, speak the three sentences you learned today. You can change a bracketed word in the sentences to make a different sentence. If you’re a more advanced learner or adventurous, send me your voice message about today’s newsletter (your opinion about WUK, etc.).
Send it by next Tuesday KST, then your voice will be on the next podcast episode. If you want my feedback for your Korean speaking, leave a comment after submission. I’m all ears!
🍳 Jin-Style Kimchi Fried Rice
Before starting, let me bring Jin’s Instagram post again,
First of all, this is not the typical kimchi fried rice Koreans make at home. It’s too good and pretty🙃 Probably the prettiest 김치볶음밥 I’ve ever seen in my life. But it’s not impossible to make this for yourself. What made his kimchi fried rice special are yellow egg garnish around the rice, mozzarella cheese, and roasted seaweed topping. Here’s how you can make Jin-style kimchi fried rice at home,
📺 Make kimchi fried rice (skip making fried egg in the video)
Turn down the stove and gather rice on the center of the pan and make a half-of-a-ball shape. (Tip: use a small bowl to do this easier)
Mix two eggs in a bowl and pour it around the rice.
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the rice and put a lid on the pan.
When the egg garnish gets firmed and the cheese melts, turn off the stove.
Sprinkle scissor-cut roasted seaweed on top of the rice and Bon Appétit!
Plz excuse me for awkward English in the recipe; I’m not good at recipe words🙃
Thanks for reading! If you liked my newsletter, support me by buying Korean Vocabulary Exercise Book- Pick a Side! It’s available on my shop (e-book) and Amazon (paperback). Use discount code ‘happyholiday’ to get 15% off when you buy an e-book.
Leave your drama, WUK story or a Korean book request in comments! You can also ❤ or share this newsletter! I’m taking a holiday break next week. See you the week after next! Happy Holiday in advance🎄🎁 안녕👋
2022 minimum monthly wage is 19.1 million KRW (1,600 USD).
Last week, I accidentally left a Korean sentence here. It was a note for recording my podcast. I forgot to delete it. Sorry 😅