Hmmm, Black day? In Korea? Is it like Black Friday? By now you may be a little confused about how those two could flow together. Every year April 14th is ‘Black Day’ in Korea, often celebrated by the single people. SAY WHAT??? I know, right? Well, in order for me to help you understand this unique unofficial “holiday”, I will have to start by giving you a little background info.
Everyone knows February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Yes, this is quite universal. However, Koreans celebrate Valentine’s Day a little differently. Usually in the Western culture on Valentine’s day, the general idea of love is celebrated. Doesn’t matter whether it’s between man and woman, man and man, woman and woman or even friends and family. But most people would agree that it is that one day of the year where men get a chance to, or feel obligated to (lol), spoil their women by gifting them chocolate, jewellery, or lingerie etc. However, in fact in Korea, this is a day where women express their love to men by gifting them chocolate. Boooo!!! So then when do women get to be spoiled? On March 14th ‘White Day’, men express their love to women by gifting them candies. Funny isn’t it?
Generally being taken or single is a pretty big deal in Korea. It could actually be one of the first questions you may get asked when you meet someone for the first time. If you are at a certain age and are not married or taken, you literally will not stop hearing from people around you, especially from your parents or relatives of course. On the side note, even Christmas is more so of a couples’ holiday in Korea. You are considered to be pretty sad and miserable to be alone on these “love holidays”.
Not sure when, but there was a time when singles did not want to feel left out any longer. Hence, came up with ‘Black Day’, where singles are celebrated too! On this day, a group of single friends gather wearing black and eat this specific black-coloured food, Jajangmyeon. I personally think this represents single peoples’ sad rotten broken hearts from not being loved. Don’t get it wrong. This act is all for fun and not to be taken too seriously.
In my opinion, Jajangmyeon in Korea is equivalent to something like spaghetti in the western culture. It is one of the most commonly consumed cheap and fast Chinese-style Korean noodles dish. ‘Jajang’ stands for black bean sauce and ‘Myeon’ stands for noodles. It has plain boiled flour based white noodles much like spaghetti and black bean sauce (usually with pork and veggies) poured on top. Once served on the table, you mix it yourself using a pair of chopsticks. It is almost always served with yellow pickled radish, Danmuji.
Korea’s food delivery system is so awesome; this type of food can be delivered to your doorstep within just minutes after making an order. I remember as a child, it used to make my day when my parents decided to order in Jajangmyeon instead of eating “boring” home-cooked meals. Sigh… You never appreciate home-cooked meals so much until you become a true grown-up.
Jajangmyeon is often found only in Chinese-style Korean food specializing restaurants. If you are only familiar with your typical Bibimbap and Korean BBQ for your go-to Korean food, Chinese -style Korean cuisine is a whole new world out there. Whether your single or not, why don’t you give it a go this weekend? And if you are single, even better! Who knows? You might run into another sad black soul slurping away Jajangmyeon at next table ;)
If you are in Vancouver here are some of the reputable Chinese-style Korean food specializing restaurants in town:
- Hee Rae Dung Korean Chinese Restaurant 喜來燈
- Bbong Korean Restaurant
- JoongWon Korean Chinese Restaurant
If you are a big instant noodles fan like I am, here are two of my favourite instant noodles versions of Jajangmyeon you can give a try (easily available at your local Korean grocery store):
*All photos were not of my own and taken from google.ca and naver.com