Haejangguk: Korea’s Hangover Soup

by Audrey on August 26, 2012


This past Sunday Sam and I headed over to one of my favourite restaurants in the area which serves haejangguk (해장국), better known as hangover soup.

Okay, so maybe Sam wasn’t hungover (and neither was I!), but I bet that’s what he would look like if he were. In a land known for excessive drinking, and where it’s not uncommon to see grown men passed out on the street in their business suits, it’s no surprise that a meal to chase the hangover has been created. And so, feeling quite sober, the two of us sat down on the floor cross-legged and ordered the infamous haejangguk.

The soup was still boiling as the server set it down on our table. Inside the hot pot was an assortment of ingredients, including: pork spine, glass noddles, cabbage, rice cakes, and lots of spices to give the meal its hearty flavour. It was also recently brought to my attention through Wikipedia (the source of unquestionable knowledge) that this soup contains congealed ox blood. You read that right, OX BLOOD! That rich spicy broth tastes as delicious as it does because of that one mystery ingredient. I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the meal knowing what was in it, but it was just as savoury after having been exposed to the truth!

As you can see from this video, eating the hangover soup takes a bit of work. First you have to move the spine to a separate plate, and free the meat from the spine using tongs and a pair of chopsticks. It’s not very graceful, but working for your food helps you savour every last bite! Once you have picked the meat off the bone, you can opt to put it back in the soup, or better yet, dip it in the mustard sauce, which is my personal way of eating it. Once the broth has cooled down a bit, it’s time to fish around for the slippery glass noodles and rice cakes which lie hidden somewhere in the bottom of the hot pot. For a mere 7,000 원 (less than $7 USD), you can say “Mmm mmm, good!”

p.s. Many of these restaurants are open 24 hours a day, because you just never know when you’ll need to chase away that nasty hangover.

Now that you know what’s in it, would you eat it?

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

BlogDaz August 26, 2012 at 7:01 am

Sounds like what I need most mornings, not sure about all the hard work taking the meat off the spine though, definitely need someone to do that for me.
May just be a problem with my computer but the video would not play.


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:48 am

It’s not so hard once you get the hang of chopsticks. The meat is so soft it comes right off. 😉


David Bennett August 26, 2012 at 7:18 am

Drunken men passed out in the business suits – I guess there will be more of them as the pressure of the modern world builds ever greater.

The UK has ‘black pudding’ – congealed blood and oatmeal in a sausage – which thankfully I have never tasted – and I’ve heard that the world black pudding throwing championships are held in Lancashire in the north of England.


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:47 am

I am happy to say that after 3 visits to the UK, I have not tried black pudding either. Nothing about that sounds appetizing! Haha


emma@greenglobaltravel August 26, 2012 at 9:42 am

I have to agree, it does sound like a lot of work to get the meat off – if I was suffering from a serious hangover I think I might need help with that bit!! But other than that I’d give it a shot. Cheers for sharing!


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:56 am

It’s not too difficult once you get the hang of it. Although in some Korean restaurants, if the server sees me struggling to figure out how to cook/mix/de-bone the meal, they come and do it for me! haha 😀


ciki August 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm

ox blood.. pig’s blood.. we eat it all here in Malaysia! haha 😛 Great video!


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:51 am

Ooough! Shivers. But I’m guessing if people eat it, it must taste good, right?! haha 😀


ciki August 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

yes it does!!


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:20 am

I’d try it 🙂


Maria August 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Can’t believe I pressed play while munching on a bowl of cereal and almond milk – I’m hungrier now than when I pressed play. :-/

Bon appetite!


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:52 am

Haha, I hope we didn’t spoil your appetite. 😉


Jerick August 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

that looks really good actually.


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

It really is! Once you get past the fact that you are eating ox blood… 😉


Marilyn August 27, 2012 at 2:11 am

Ox blood is all I needed to hear…and no I would not eat this meal!


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

It’s one of the more adventurous dishes here in Korea, though there are far worse… 🙂


cheryl August 27, 2012 at 5:58 am

It looks super good even with all the hard work and ox blood. I definitely give it a try!


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 1:58 am

Good! I’m glad we have someone on board with trying ox blood! 😉


Hogga August 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Anything that helps cure my hangover is good in my books… but somehow I feel this is the same as all other ‘cures’ lol


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 2:01 am

Yeah, I’d be happy with a greasy Canadian breakfast. Bring on that bacon! 😉


Christy August 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Cool video. This looks like a lot of work for being hungover though. haha. But it looks good!


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 2:02 am

Thanks Christy! I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t hungover… 😉


Lorenzo Gonzalez August 29, 2012 at 12:36 am

Seems like too much work for me if I had a hangover! lol


Audrey August 29, 2012 at 2:03 am

Haha, yeah, it does take a bit of effort. 😉


Abby August 29, 2012 at 11:47 am

Yes, if I’m hungover enough to need soup, I worry about having the motor skills to do the “work” party lol. But this sounds absolutely delicious!!


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:21 am

Hahaha…indeed. It’s a fair amount of labour for ‘hangover’ style meal.


Alexa Hart August 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I miss cheap Korean food! I always had trouble with the glass noodles when I was living there. They are so slippery! Big fan of the soups and stews over there.


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:22 am

The glass noodles are slippery! I certainly look silly dropping them in the video 😛


Dan Clarke September 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Will definite try this if I visit Korea any day.


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:25 am

That’s cool to hear Dan. Aside from curing a hangover it tastes good too!


Nomadic Translator @latinAbroad September 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm

hmmm, I’m not sure whether I would eat it or not… I guess it depends on its aroma 😀

Honestly, it’s funny that what shocked me the most about this post: The fact that you stated that $7 USD is a “mere” amount to pay for a Korean dish. I guess the cost of living in Korea is much higher than I thought…

What do you have to say about that? I’m looking into a new job in South Korea and would like to know whether I would be able to save as much as I anticipated to pay off my student loan debt 😉 thanks in advance!

– Maria Alexandra


Audrey September 24, 2012 at 3:49 am

I would say Korea is a good place to save , but that all depends on your spending habits. An average Korean meal will cost you between $4-7, but it can be a lot pricier if you’re looking to eat in foreign restaurants. The same goes with drinks; super cheap if you pick up local brews at the supermarket, not so much if you go to a pub. If you come here with the mindset that you want to save, then it is certainly more than possible. I know I’ve been trimming costs wherever I can… 🙂


NaEun Park September 16, 2012 at 12:49 am

That is the one thing I miss the most about Korea – ahh sooo good. Especially on a rainy, chilly morning.


Daffi Will December 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I have been talking about this subject a lot lately with my mother so hopefully this will get him to see my point of view.

how to prevent hangovers


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