Silent But Deadly: the Scent of Korean Food

Silent But Deadly: the Scent of Korean Food

November 19, 20123969Views

By Jen Lee

(click to enlarge)


As a Korean that was born and raised in America, it wasn’t uncommon for me to run into weird experiences like this one. I’ll try not to do these too often, but I figure it would be interesting (or at least funny) to show some of the more awkward phases of growing up as a Korean kid in a world that barely even knew what Korea was (my neighborhood had very few Asians).

Anyways, this particular situation happened back when I was in elementary school (5th grade, to be precise). After a few hours into class, this funky smell started taking over my small classroom, and we were all wondering where it was coming from. It wasn’t until lunchtime when I very embarrassingly realized that the mystery stink had been seeping out of my lunchbox the entire time. Needless to say, I didn’t make many friends that year.

As someone who loves 깍두기 (kkakdugi), also known as radish kimchi, it’s something I still deal with now. My poor guy actually calls it “caca-dookie” and hates me for keeping it in our fridge. I guess it’s just one of those things that can’t be helped when it comes to kimchi (especially this kind). Over the Chuseok holiday, my aunt had actually made a whole container of this stuff (mixed in with Korean pears!) just for me. Though the gift was super awesome, it was not fun lugging it around for hours through subways and a KTX ride from Seoul to Gwangju.

Honestly, I think every person that enjoys kimchi (or even comes in contact with it) has faced some sort of embarrassing situation due to kimchi stink (feel free to share!). Though Korea has managed to move ahead in all forms of technology and other fancy things, I don’t think I’ll live to see the day when they find a way to completely mask the smell of their number one side dish.
Jen Lee is a Gyopo (교포) who likes to draw and also has an unhealthy obsession with green tea.

Her other artwork can be seen here at and at

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