[Ask Hyojin ] Why Do Koreans Eat Seaweed Soup on Their Birthdays?

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Have you seen people eating seaweed soup on their birthdays in Korean dramas?

In this episode of “Ask Hyojin”, teacher Hyojin explains why Korean people eat seaweed soup (미역국) on their birthdays and talks about Korean birthday culture.

Do you have any other questions that you’d like to ask Hyojin? Let us know in the comments!

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[Ask Hyojin ] Why Do Koreans Eat Seaweed Soup on Their Birthdays?
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  • Alice

    Can you please tell me what does “제발” exactly mean? I was told it means “please”, but as korean sentences already include “please” by being written in the polite language (i guess), is this “please” more special or something? ^_^ Thank you. ^^ By the way, this video was very interesting. ^_^

    • 라넬

      I think “제발” is a literal or direct translation of “please” in Korean. 그런데 난 확실하지 않아요…

    • Kitty

      Go to Kwow on youtube. She’ll tell you what 제발 means.

  • joy

    According to my friend who is a Korean, people eat seaweed soup in commemoration for being able to surpass danger just like the mom was able to survive giving birth to you. (Seaweed) being slippery has that connotation of being sleek/slippery,hence they don’t serve that during tests.

  • 태권도_마틴_불가리아

    I was told that Koreans start counting their age from the day they are born. So you are already one year old on your birthday. Is it true? So it means you are actually one year younger in the rest of the world. 😀 Eg: If you are 18 in Korea you’d be 17 in the US.
    맞죠? ㅎㅎ

  • melchan7

    I often see korean eats seaweed soup on drama. I love it very much and make it by myself at home. I think korean foods are interesting and good for your health, so I’d like to know about others.thanks

  • zeinab

    the day after tomorrow is my birthday 😀 i wish i could be in korea and celebrate it with ttmik and eat seaweed 😀 kamsa-ham-nida hyojin for teaching this

  • Calies

    Actually we do birthday punches here in America too (for no reason -_-). We also do birthday pinches and say “birthday pinches for extra inches”.

  • Bart

    Is that a correct spelling – 새닐빵 – for birthday punches? : )

    • seojin

      It’s 생일빵 😉

  • Maria D.


    In many dramas I heard strong and long ᄒ sound on the middle of word, mostly from older men. Is this some kind of dialect or mean something?

    Thank you


    • jeon sang gyu

      lt is nothing, but lt is related situation.
      with giving ‘ㅎ’sound, the old man is considered
      a warm man. also lt’s mean that I understand you.

  • Caroline

    How do Koreans feel about opening birthday gifts before their actual birthdays? I know here in America, we often write on the outside of the package ‘do not open until (date)’. Do they do this in Korea? I’m asking because my Korean pen-pal’s birthday is coming soon, and I was thinking about the possibility of the package arriving a bit early. Would he find it strange if I put ‘do not open until March 7th’ on it?

  • jeon sang gyu

    lt is nothing, but lt is related situation.
    with giving ‘ㅎ’sound, the old man is considered
    a warm man. also lt’s mean that I understand you.

  • Is that a picture of Mychonny on the wall in the background? lol

  • Laura Sanchez

    What is the difference between 하지만 and 근데? I don’t really understand when to use one or the other. Please help me, thank you.

    • No difference. But 그런데/ 근데 also used like “by the way” – to add more info or change topic, and 하지만 is only if there’s condition? or opposition, just like English “but”.
      There’s also 그러나 = 그렇지만 = 하지만. But 하지만 and 근데 are probably most used.

  • Drake

    Hello! I have this question. What’s the difference between ~지마 and ~지만? Because I know Hajima means “don’t do it” or “stop it”, or basically makes the verb a negative, and Hajiman means “but”. But I’ve also read words like Kajiman, and that question arose.
    I hope somebody can help me! Thanks ^^

    • The base is ~지 말다, which is just form of negative imperative? It’s somewhat irregular verb, so you just have to memorize the conjugation. And the proper way is to write it with a space, as far as I know. (it least that’s how you would see it in a textbook). But in casual speech it’s often written just as one word – ~지마. 하지마, 그러지마, 오다가지마.
      And it appears in the forms like ~지 마, ~지 마라, ~지 마세요, ~지 마십시오 (from most casual to most formal).

      ~지만 has nothing to do with it. It’s just linking verb with “but”.
      Like 한국어가 재미있지만…
      그 안경을 사고 싶었지만 돈이 아까워요. (wanted to buy glasses but was shame to waste the money)

    • Drake

      @Greg: Thanks a lot for your response, you really helped me! ^_^

  • John AR

    Hi Hyojin, warm greetings and wishes, this is John A R from Bangalore, India, are there any training classes held here in Bangalore, on Korean Dishes, especially with seed-weeds, sea vegetables, yes indeed there are many Korean Resturants here at Kamahanalli and Kalyannagar. My Email ID thougthshadwings@gmail.com – Mob: 9845307519

  • John AR

    translated via Google language 🙂 🙂 따뜻한 인사와 바램, 인도의 방갈로 (Bangalore) 출신의 John A R입니다. 방갈로르, 한국 식기, 특히 종자 잡초, 바다 채소와 함께하는 훈련 강습회가 여기 있습니다. 실제로 Kamahanalli와 Kalyannagar에는 많은 한국인 레스토랑이 있습니다.

  • John AR

    여기 방갈로르에서 개최되는 훈련 수업이 있습니까?