Beating Boknal (4) 2011
The hottest period of Korean weather will begin in mid-July when the chang-ma (장마 – monsoon season) has begun to move north towards Manchuria. The hottest period, lasting 2o days, known as boknal (복날), begins on ch’obok (초복) which this year is July 14th. 10 days later is chung-bok ( 중복 – July 24th) followed another 10 days later by mal-bok (말복 – August 3rd). The three days, ch’o, chung and mal, (초, 중, 말) are known as sambok (삼복), ‘sam’ being the Sino-Korean for ‘three.’
Two add confusion, there is Hanyorum (or hanyeoreum, 한여름) which is basically ‘midsummer’ and this begins once the chang-ma (monsoon) has fully moved north. Hanyorum, usually in August, is typified by hot days and balmy evenings. Though the monsoon has gone, it is still humid but perhaps I notice it more being British.
Boknal is supposed to be uncomfortable but personally, I find the humid monsoon season just as horrid. I suppose with boknal you know the end of summer is in sight.
Ways to beat boknal – or at least make it bearable:
sleep with a ‘wooden wife’ – she’ll only cost you about 10.000 Won and apart from being lazy she’s totally mute!
Korean teas, chilled are wonderfully refreshing if not a little ‘just’ in terms of taste.
wear silver summer trousers – I’ve heard the material these suits and trousers are made sometimes called ‘kal-ch’i (갈치) after the silver cutlass fish seen in markets. I’ve had two pairs of these made and they lower body heat considerably.
handkerchiefs and towels – in cheapo ‘dollar shops’ you can buy handkerchiefs for about 1000 Won. I usually find Koreans regard sweat almost as nasty as urine – which is basically what it is!
ice rooms and cold pools – a brilliant way to cool down.
cold showers – pretty obvious, really.
hand fans – plenty to choose from
Then there are a range of foods for combating heat known as bo-yang-shik (보양식). Fight heat with heat (이열치열); Ginseng chicken, and stews including dog stew (보신탕), are the foods typically eaten on three days marking boknal and chicken ginseng is a big favourite right through summer.
Alternatively, fight heat with cold and cool down with patpingsu (받빙수), naeng myeon (cold noodles) and plenty of water melon.
Chill out in one of the numerous cheong-cha (arbors – 정자), they are great at capturing what little breeze is in the air.
Best of all, get naked and lie in the blast of the air-con!
© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.
- How to Stay Healthy in the Summer Heat According to Chinese Medicine (acurelief.wordpress.com)