The Korean Path to Immortality

January 26, 2011

One of my motivations for coming back to Asia was the healthier lifestyle. It’s true you can find ways to overindulge and get fat almost anywhere in the world, but Korea held an appeal for me from two fronts: a consistent schedule to base my runs and workouts around, and exposure to a better diet. In Japan, I didn’t have to worry about processed foods containing high amounts of high fructose corn syrup. I didn’t even have to think about butter in meals I ordered from restaurants. Butter and corn are foreign ideas.

Ignoring for the moment Korea’s exceptionally high suicide rate and stressful work environment, there are quite a few amenities available in the land of the morning calm to lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol, and generally just feel better when you wake up.

Kimchi (김치)


Kimchi is life. The most popular vloggers in Korea operate under the name Eat Your Kimchi. There are kimchi festivals. Every restaurant in every small corner of the country will offer you kimchi with your meal. Peppers and cabbage are among Korea’s top agricultural products.

So what is kimchi? Essentially pickled cabbage and hot peppers. The recipe varies accordingly to the maker, but it can include onions, cucumbers, or any number of vegetables.

Why is it good for you? The chili peppers have high amounts of Vitamin C. Kimchi helps eliminate cholesterol and promotes intestinal health (probiotic properties). Eat your kimchi, and you will be sure to live a long, long time.

Oncheon (온천)


The Korean word for hot springs. I suppose public bathing would be a better way to put this, as Korea doesn’t seem to have as many natural springs as Japan, but since I live close to a famous one, I’m biased. Give yourself a good soak a few times a week to sweat out all those toxins.

Ginseng (인삼)

Fresh Korean Ginseng

If you’re not quite satisfied with the antioxidants and health benefits of green tea, you might want to give Korean ginseng a try. The root is mainly used to relieve stress and increase alertness, but it’s marketed for almost anything that ails you, from diabetes to sexual dysfunction. It’s sold in a variety of forms; if you’re in Korea prior to one of the big holiday periods you’re sure to see gift boxes of the pure root for sale in all supermarkets. Other times it’s available as a root, in tea bags, as an energy drink (red or gold), and powdered.



Even though this cocktail is of Japanese origin, I thought I’d mention it here. Whether you get your healthy bacteria from kimchi or Yakult (요구르트), probiotics are key for a healthy intestinal tract.

It’s what’s NOT here


– Bacon
– Excess beef
– Butter
– Corn syrup
– Large food portions
– Ovens (i.e. simpler meals)
– Excess sugar

2 Responses to The Korean Path to Immortality

  1. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World on January 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I’ve tried sooo hard to like Kimchi… but I can’t seem to get my palette used to it. I love yakult though…

  2. Waegook Tom on January 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Hey! Really great entry here!

    Kimchi is the wonder food. Aside from being tasty and healthy, it cures cancer, HIV, boosts the immune system (that one I can believe) and helps you live longer.

    One of my Korean friends told me that darker coloured rice is revered here too. It’s said that if you eat it, your hair while go a distinguished white in old age, as opposed to a murky grey.

    My lifestyle here is so much healthier than back home, although I must admit I indulge in the delivery services (mmm fried chicken) on a pretty regular basis! Thank god the gym is 2 minutes from my place!

    I do miss bacon, though. After my first year here, the first thing I ate when I landed in the UK was two bacon sandwiches slathered in ketchup and brown sauce. Mmmmm!


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