Yasik Culture: Food at any hour

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night craving something to eat? Well, in Alabama, you’d better have a stocked kitchen because no food places will be open past 11 pm. However, in South Korea, the is a cultural eating phenomenon called “Yasik” that will become your new obsession.

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In Alabama, most businesses and restaurants close at around 9-11 pm. But South Korea is a country that never truly sleeps, as you can see below. Even at 2 & 3 o’clock in the morning, boisterous LED signs and lights illuminate the sky blurring the line between night and day.

Because people are still awake, they are hungry. There is a culture of late night eating called “야식 (ya-sik).” In the states, we say “midnight snack,” but, in Korea, Yasik can be a meal ranging from chips to a pizza, chicken, Gorgonzola pasta…etc. You name it, and you could probably order it.

chicken-669637_1920Korea’s FAVORITE Yasik food is fried chicken. When most foreigners think of Asia, they only think of rice. But Korea’s obsession with fried chicken is probably one of the best least known facts about Korean the world is missing out on. Their signature yangneom chicken 양념 치킨 is the perfect answer to a midnight craving. Other typical Yasik foods are:

Anyway, because of Yasik, the delivery service in Korea is incredible. People on motorbikes zip up and down the streets all night long to accommodate this late-night eating culture. I was really shocked when my Korean friend kept insisting that it was normal to order a whole box of chicken as a “snack” at 12:30 in the morning… I was even more shocked that there were people still working who would deliver the chicken at 12:30 in the morning. 😲😴

South Korea is truly a country that never sleeps, and so neither does its appetite! Yasik culture has caused maanny Korean restaurants to stay open all night long. We’re talking literal 24-hour service. Which is good and bad in my opinion. I can’t imagine waking up before dawn and closing well after midnight every day as a store owner. But, for consumers, it means there’s always somewhere to eat!

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Photo by Ian Valerio on Unsplash

One last thing about Yasik: sometimes your boss MAKES you do it.

So how does this compare with Alabama? What do we do when we’re hungry late at night, or do you think we have a more negative view of the “midnight snack?”

Let me know in the comments below!

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