from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #53: Jjam-bap

with one comment

The task of revision is overwhelming, my first draft requiring major edits. I have the week off this week and I’m hoping to have the majority of the edits taken care of by the end of my vacation. Of course, I’ll probably go through several rounds of revision but I’ll probably start looking for agents after this first round is done.

In the meantime, I read an interesting article today on KoreaBANG about food in the Army.

According to the article,

“A recent National Assembly investigation into food in the military revealed that a South Korean soldier is fed for just ₩2,051 won (1.42EUR/1.85USD) per meal, an amount far lower than that given to American soldiers and even less than most Seoul elementary school pupils receive.”

This figure (₩2,051) seems far higher than it actually is. Or was, perhaps. I don’t know if the condition of chow has improved over the years but it was far worse than the 40-cent lunches at my elementary school cafeteria.

Picture taken from KoreaBANG (I don’t know the original source). This actually looks a lot better than the average meal.

I’ll just add a couple of interesting facts about jjam-bap, chow.

According to sources on Naver, the word jjam-bap originates from jan-ban, which means leftovers. When I was in the Army, I heard a different story. I was told that it was a bastardization of jjin-bap, which means steamed rice/food. While occasionally there are fried items on the menu, the majority of chow is steamed because it’s easier with those industrial-sized steamers. I don’t know which is true but the former seems to be the more popular theory.

Jjam-bap is also slang which means experience (time spent at a certain task) and thus rank. The longer you’re in the Army, the more jjam-bap you have eaten and the higher your rank is. This term is often used in Korean companies and Korean society in general with the same type of implications.


Written by Young

October 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Entries

Tagged with , , , ,

One Response

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  1. Most educational. Thanks.


    October 22, 2012 at 1:54 am

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