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Uniquely Korean (and some unexpected) ways to stay cool this summer.
1) Freeze your favorite beverages in little paper soju cups
We recommend sweet, fruity drinks like aloe, orange or grape juice! Tip: Cover the cup with tin foil before putting in your popsicle stick so it stays centered and upright.
2) Make hwachae
This homemade iced punch is a great bingsoo alternative for those times when you can’t make it to the nearest cafe (or if lactose is not your thing). We like this recipe for omija hwachae. Peruse other varieties of hwachae here.
3) Treat heat with heat
Sweating like a pig? Don’t reach for that iced latte—drink a piping hot cup of ginger tea instead! Need a day to cool off? Forgo the air-con of COEX—head to the nearest sauna and get into the 40-degree hot tub. Contrary to our natural inclinations, i-yeol chi-yeol (이열치열 [以熱治熱]) tells us that you should treat heat with heat. “The concept of i-yeol chi-yeol is based on the belief that the human’s natural warmth [the “yang” force] leaves the body, leaving the stomach and insides colder in the summer,” says Dr. Lee Dong-wook of Faith, Hope and Charity Korean Medicine Clinic in Cheongnyangni. “Thus, it’s ideal to protect the body by substituting warm food for cold food.”
So what can you do to combat heat with heat?
For one, try drinking lukewarm water at home. When you’re out, drink hot traditional Korean brews like ginseng tea or omija tea which will help protect your body in the heat. For something a little more immersive and indulgent, sweat it out, sauna-style: Hit the foreigner- and family-friendly Dragon Hill Spa in Yongsan-gu, the Thai-infused women-only Spa Lei in Sinsa-dong, or Dahwa-yeol (다화열), the luxurious spa near Dosan Park catering to men of discerning taste.
4) Eat samgyetang
On that note, before you reach for the naengmyeon, consider getting yourself a steaming bowl of samgyetang. Chobok (초복, July 18), Jungbok (중복, July 28) and Malbok (말복, August 7) are believed to be the three hottest days of 2012, according to the lunar calendar. On these days, Koreans eat this nutritious pot of chicken ginseng soup to reinvigorate the body and restore stamina.
5) Freeze rice in fabric bag
Fill a thin fabric bag (like those used to make anchovy broth, a cheese cloth, a small pillowcase or even a cotton sock) with rice, freeze it for several hours, then slip it under the covers. The rice absorbs heat more slowly than an ice pack would, keeping your sheets refreshingly cool for longer.
6) Refrigerate face mask sheets
Not only are cool face mask sheets super refreshing, they’ll give your skin that extra summer glow. On top of that, they’re cheap and easy to find. Find the 1,000 won packs (sometimes offered at a 1+1 deal!) at your local Olive Young or GS Watson. Note: If you’re face masking before bed, be sure to remove the mask before tucking yourself in for the night. A mask that dries up on your face will suck out precious moisture from your skin along with it.
7) Use and wear cool fabrics
Moshi (모시), or Korean ramie fabric, is an eco-friendly, gossamer-thin, absorbent fabric worn in Korea for the past 1500 years. While moshi is often compared to dragonfly wings, sambae (삼배), or hemp, is a less refined and more practical, everyday fabric that does the job, too. Department stores carry moshi and sambae blankets and underclothes, as do online retailers like Gmarket. Be sure to check out Gwangjang Market for moshi and sambae products as well. If the styles (or prices—moshi in particular can get expensive) aren’t your cup of tea, add myeon (cotton) and saengsa (silk) to your list of Korean shopping vocab when seeking out lighter summer outfits. (Bonus: Linen is pronounced “linen.”)
8) Turn on the overhead stove top fan
At night you can turn on your stove fan (on the ventilator hood). It will draw hot air out of the house and pull cooler evening air into the house. Tip: Most hoods have the option to toggle the light bulb on/off. Make sure you save energy by turning the light off while the ventilator is doing its job.
9) Spike your watermelon with soju
Cut a small hole into a fresh watermelon and stick a bottle of soju into it. Keep the watermelon upright and let it sit in the fridge for about two days or until most of the alcohol is absorbed. Tip: Keep the watermelon cut-out and plug it back into the hole for easy transportation. Keep out of reach of children!
Compiled and written by Meagan Mastrini, Alex Jung, Yaeri Song and Sonja Swanson. Cross-published from SeoulistMag.com with permission.