What is Happiness?

So, What is Happiness? Well according to the dictionary, Happiness is the mental state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. But is that all there is for happiness in one’s life? According to the United Nations, they have a little different approach to happiness. According to their Happiness report in 2015, happiness is a proper measure of social progress and a goal of public policy.

According to their happiness report, South Korea is ranked 47 with a happiness score of 5.984. There are many factors that influence this score. It is explained through GDP per capita, social support, health life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perception of corruption, and dystopia + residual. For South Korea specifically, their happiness is mainly based on GDP per capita, social support, and health life expectancy. The GDP per capita was at its highest in 2014 at 24565.56 USD. For South Korea’s health life expectancy, it makes sense that it would be pretty high. As I said in my previous blog (the one about food), Korean people in general tend to eat mostly steam with very little red meat. With that said, I think they have a very good diet which in the long run can increase their life expectancy by a lot. With this in mind, South Korea is still ranked 47 which is pretty much in he middle so I do not think using the UN’s method of evaluation for happiness a accurate way mainly because there is no way they can account for. Also, there are tons of happy people who do not meet our expectations of living.


Korean Food/Cuisine

Although Korean food has evolved through many centuries, the people of Korea maintained the belief that food and medicine have the same origin and have the same function. They also believe that health and illness come from how you prepared the food and how you consume it. These two beliefs play a crucial role in the development of Korean medicine as they believed that medicine should only be used after the food has failed.

One of the key things to understand traditional Korean food is fermentation, a metabolic process that helps food mature so that it has improved taste and nutritional properties and can be stored for a longer period. two examples of food that was developed with this in mind is ganjang which is soy sauce and Doenjang which is soybean paste. These fermentations can take anywhere from several months to several years. Fermentation is such a key factor in taste and flavor at homes and in restaurants.


Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)

In modern days, Korea shares many similarities with other Asian cuisine such as rice and vegetables and cooking methods such as stir-frying, steaming, and braising. Like with all Asian countries, Koreans also eat a lot less meat compared to western world. One characteristic to describe their food is that it is often spicy. Red pepper paste, green onion, soy sauce, bean paste, garlic, and pepper are just some of the things they use to season their dishes. Korean people are often skinny because their meals consists of different kinds of vegetables and not many meat in their diet. In a full course meal in Korea, it usually includes several large dishes that is complemented with as many as twenty side dishes. Traditional Korean meals usually includes soup such as Kamja Guk (Potato Soup) and Hin Pap (White Rice). A common and popular side dish is Kimchi which is often very spicy and is considered a national dish.

Kamja Guk (Potato Soup)         Kimchi-5.jpg

                                                         Kamja Guk                                          Kimchi

Meals are considered really important to the Koreans and as such, most of the time is spent on the preparations. In fact, they find eating so important that they put all their concentration into eating and find it impolite to talking while eating a meal. They hold the conversation for the end of the meal. Usually, the dishes of food is placed in the middle of the table and each person at the table is given a bowl of rice.

The Korean people’s diet has adequate nutrition with the World Bank reporting less than one percent of the population is malnourished and nearly all have access to adequate sanitation and safe drinking water.




Korean Fashion

The Hanbok is a traditional dress, often worn up until about 100 years ago. Even though the literal translation of Hanbok is “Korean clothing”, the dress often refers to the clothing of the Joseon period. Nowadays, the traditional dress is worn on festive days or special anniversaries. Although the dress is worn on festival like settings, most people in Korea  keep these for when they actually need them. And it is not just on festivals or special anniversaries that these dresses are worn. Children often wear them on their first birthday and adults wear them on their wedding ceremony. People also wear them on their 60th birthday. In the western culture, we usually wear black attire during funerals but in Korea, they also wear the Hanbok for their funerals. Although most cities in Korea have been modernized, some villages or districts maintain the traditional ways of life so the Hanbok is seen as casual wear in these parts of Korea.


Fast forward to modern days, Korea’s current fashion has been modernized. I do not know for sure if western celebrities set any fashion trends but in Korea, the fashion trends are usually set by their celebrities. These fashion trends actually only catches on other celebrities.