Dog Days of Summer

Today, 14 July, is the hottest day of the year. Or rather, it should be, according to the lunar calendar. Current weather conditions: rainy, windy, 25 degrees.

Today is called Chobok, first hottest day. It's the first of three "hottest days of the year" during a period known as Sambok. The three collective "hottest days" (Chobok, Jungbok, middle hottest day, and Malbok, final hottest day) are called boknal, which translates to "dog days." The non-Korean world also has the expression "Dog Days of Summer" to describe the hottest days of the year; a reference to the dog star, Sirius, or maybe just the fact that both dogs and people get lazy when it's ridiculously hot outside.

But Koreans take the expression to a whole new level: traditionally, people eat dog soup, called boshintang. Today, though, most people eat a special soup, samgyetang, which is a full chicken stuffed with rice and ginger, boiled in a mild broth. It's a hot soup---a seemingly odd choice for such a hot day. But Koreans like to eat hot food on hot days because sweat cools the skin, while the heat warms the inside. Today may not have been a hot day, but the rain and wind didn't stop people from waiting outside samgyetang restaurants under their umbrellas, just so they could get a taste. Rain or shine, tradition is tradition.