9 Freaky Korean Foods That Will Test Your Boundaries

fermented skate

With different cultures come different — and often pretty bizarre — foods. Depending what you’ve grown up with, what level of gag reflex you have, and some other factors, the line in the sand will be in a different place for you. So where do you draw the line with these nine crazy and unusual Korean foods? Would you eat ’em all if for nothing else than the experience, or would you not even touch it with a 10-foot pole?

Pork skin

This particular delicacy is famous for being good for your skin, as it boasts high levels of collagen. It definitely looks the part, as it’s got the chewy and gelatinous texture you might expect from it. No crunchy pork rinds here.

Chicken feet

Chicken feet are enjoyed in many places around the world, including but not limited to Korea, China, Southeast Asia, and South America. The entire battle here is getting past the image of chicken feet. The pile of chicken feet.

Soondae — Korean blood sausage

The concept of this food is a bit strange. It’s made up of a motley of ingredients that you probably wouldn’t think to slap together. We’ve got boiled cow or pig intestine stuffed with glass noodles, barley, blood, and, depending on the specific type of soondae, some other ingredients. Other than that, it’s probably the most everyday item on this list. You can find it at just about any street vendor also selling tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and it’s often accompanied with liver.

Cow/pig/lamb entrails

If you think this sounds delicious, it looks even better.

There are three different foods under this category, and they are gopchang (small intestine, pictured above), daechang (large intestine, similar to small intestine), and makchang (Abromasum — a part of a cow’s stomach, pictured below). All three are most often eaten — after very thorough cleaning — grilled, like your normal weekend neighborhood barbecue.



Sliced raw octopus

Raw octopus definitely has the most shock value. Correction: second-most?

It’s one thing to see something unfamiliar and odd on a plate in front of you, but for it to be moving? Like this?

sannakji live octopus

via YouTube / Darrin Lee

That’s a whole different ball park. Not to mention that, depending on how it’s served, you often have to muscle these suckers off of the plate (pro tip: sliding them off rather than pulling them off makes for easier eats). Dip in a special sauce, chew carefully, and if you’ve worked your jaw enough, you probably won’t have to worry about your food suctioning to your tongue or throat.

Don’t worry, this little guy (Song Minguk) is just as freaked out as you are.

minguk sannakji

via YouTube / SHOWBIZ

It’s a survival instinct.

minguk sannakji 2

via YouTube / SHOWBIZ

Ox blood soup

You’ll often find this — coagulated ox blood — in haejangguk, which is what people like to eat after a day of heavy drinking to detox. It’s also a standalone stew, called ox blood soup, which people just eat because it’s delicious, and apparently, very good for you. But, then again, so are a lot of things you don’t want to eat.

Silkworm pupae

This one is truly an uphill mental battle. Just look at it. Need I say more.

And look, it comes in a can! It’s literally a can of worms.

Say “ahhhh~”

Fermented skate

This looks like the most normal item on the list, right?

Think again.

Of all the items on this list, this is the one that really makes you wonder… — yes, of all the things on this list, this is the one — who in the world decided that this would be okay to eat? It’s FERMENTED fish. And it’s not fermented in the way that kimchi is fermented. It has actually gone bad (not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good, you know). It gives off that telltale red flag of a smell that screams “don’t eat me you’ll die.” It smells the part, and it gives your mouth a tingly sensation, which, after you eat it, makes you think, “Oh, this is what rotten food probably tastes like. Now I know.”

Now you know.

It’s also VERY good for you. Figures.

Live spoon worm

This probably takes the cake as the most WTF food on this list.

Maybe it’ll make you feel better if you knew that Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun) from “My Love From the Star” loves this stuff. She also happens to not be a real person. But that’s beside the point. In the drama, Cheon Song Yi periodically craved spoon worm (gaebul), also widely known as penis fish, aptly named for its appearance.

Gaebul also — surprise — is eaten raw. Chopped up and still wriggling on your plate. If possible, it is even more off-putting than raw octopus, and even Koreans can’t with this. But what could I say that does more justice than this video? 

What do you think? Have you had any of these foods? Which ones would you be willing to try?