Getting Over A Hangover: Korean Style
Before the Hangover Popsicle was introduced this past summer, Koreans already had some hangover cures up their sleeves that, I can say from experience, work pretty well. With numerous alcoholic beverages available at varying price points from as cheap as W1,000 and sold at convenience stores in Korea, it’s no wonder that people are out having a party constantly. You can even have that party on chairs and tables right outside of the convenience store itself. Oh the convenience and trouble that has caused. Not only are Koreans drinking it up outside of shops and bodegas, they’re out with their friends going all night in a five-round extravaganza. Really, five rounds! Try going out Korean style and see if you can even last one night. I double dog dare you.
When the fun subsides and the headaches and bellyaches take over, what is a person to do? Koreans are good at drinking but they’re even better at relieving the chills the next day.
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Here is what to try to get over that hangover… Korean style.
Drinks marketed exclusively to the hungover crowd and crew were first debuted in 1992 and since then have become a multi-billion dollar industry in Korea.
Pre-Drink It Up!
‘Dawn 808’ (여명808) is the world’s first hangover cure or at least they tout it so. It is recommended to drink this PRIOR to getting your drink on to stave off the oncoming hangover. If the 100% all natural ingredient libation is not guzzled prior to drinking, at least mid drinking or on the way home will be good too. The taste is pretty strong and not for the prone to gagging. It is an oriental mix so it’s got that bitter, sweet and sour medicine taste all its own. The Great Grand Prix Award that’s highlighted on the can should give you comfort though as should the old man’s face smiling your way as you take that first sip. While it’s a bit more expensive than other drinks as it costs W3,000, those that drink it, swear by it’s curative value. FYI: 808 apparently stands for the number of times that old fella concocted his drink until he finally found the one to provide relief.
‘Condition’ (컨디션) is an all natural ingredients cure that’s gotten more popular with younger Koreans through some pretty awesome advertisements as of late featuring some awkwardly dancing pop stars (are they supposed to be drunk?). Various versions of this drink exist for men, women and have different ingredients.
Post-Drink It Up!
‘Hutgaesoo’ (헛개수) or Oriental Raisin Tea is THE most popular hangover go-to for Koreans. The recovery drink is well known for being an aid in relieving those hangover aches and pains. The drink is made from 100% Korean Oriental raisin tree fruits and helps to prevent dehydration which means this is also a great drink to slurp down after exercising or other sweat inducing activity. As the Number ONE alcohol recovery soother on the market, this is a must-try! Be prepared for that earthy plant taste though. It’s not like guzzling back some sweet juice or lime-ade.
‘Morning Care’ (모닝케어) is one of the biggest brands touting hangover relief in Korea. Raisin tree extracts, soybeans, guarana and other ingredients help with hydration while the milk thistle boosts and aids in liver protection. The company boasts five different products so there’s something for everyone. Their products include: Goodbye Alcohol, Morning Care Plus, Morning Care Turmeric, Morning Care X and Morning Care Lady. Though it’s called Morning Care and one would assume it should be enjoyed the morning after, it is also recommended to be consumed prior to drinking if possible.
‘Hutgaecha’ (헛개차), which sounds super similar to Hutgaesoo mentioned above, is not to be confused. This drink is also made from Korean Oriental raisin tree fruits but this one is made to be much stronger tasting. If you can stand the lighter more popular version above, then take pick up this one the next time you’re around for an even earthier palate cleanser.
Before all of these new-age drinks to get the heavy-drinking crowd through the next day were introduced though, there were hot bubbling savory soups that hit just the right spot and made that work day the next day bearable.
Eat It Up!
One thing that Koreans do really well is hydrate after drinking down that sul (술), or alcohol. Post night-out meals generally include a soup and the most common soup goes by the name of haejangguk (해장국), which means “soup to chase a hangover”. Now, where it can get confusing to newcomers is that from one place to the next what is IN the haejangguk can vary slightly. It’s important to ask which variance of the soup you’ll be getting so there aren’t any surprises when you dig right on in to stop that tummy rumble.
Various types of haejangguk include:
Gomtang/Galbitang (곰탕/갈비탕): Rich in protein, these two soups are a hearty broth that simmers around slices of beef (in the gomtang) or around beef that is still on the bone (in the galbitang). This soup will have you slurping every last drop out of the bowl because it’s just that good. Really, just pick the bowl up and pour it down that gullet. If you’re eating this next day, everyone already knows you’re hungover, so you might as well enjoy it.
Blood Soup (선짓국): This version contains congealed cow or pig blood (similar to black pudding) and is one of those soups that is either loved or hated. Most westerners steer clear of this one due to the bloody lead taste. It’s like you just bit your tongue.. over and over again. If that isn’t appetizing, I don’t know what is.
Sundaeguk (순대국): This version includes blood sausage made from pig intestines stuffed with pigs blood and other ingredients and is set in a white broth soup. While it might sound just as unappetizing as the one above, this one is a bit more palatable.
Bean Sprout Soup (콩나물국): This vegetarian friendly option is a bean sprout soup that is pretty simple and to the point. Bean sprouts and tofu simmer away and in some restaurants, you’ll be offered an egg as it is served to crack right in to the bowl. The asparagine in this soup supposedly gets rid of the acetaldehyde that builds up in the body while drinking. Kongnamulguk may also be served in a variety of ways so ask before you get it if you don’t want it spicy.
Pollack Soup (북어해장국): This fishy stew comes in a milky broth base with a lighter taste. Usually there are some mushrooms, tofu and shallots added.
Cod Soup (대구탕): This soup is really simple and to the point but oh so delightful. Cod soup is boils away in a simple clear broth concoction. This soup is especially popular on the southern coast of Korea and there are numerous places to eat it while visiting the coastal regions.