From live octopus to giant worms and bug larvae… Korea definitely has loads of unusual foods! You’ll be shocked to find out what kind of delicacies Korea has!

Here are 7 Korean foods that might seem strange or even intriguing!

1. Sannakji (Live Octopus)

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Photo: Wiki

Made famous in a rather disturbing scene of Oldboy, one of the most famous movies to have come out of Korea, the live octopus is often considered a must-try on any trip to the peninsula. Octopus tentacles, chopped and seasoned, are served still squirming alongside a variety of dipping sauces. If you’re able to pry them off the plate and get them in your mouth, you’re certain to experience a most unusual taste sensation. There is a certain level of danger when eating this, and one should proceed with caution—octopi’s suckers continue to function even when they are chopped up, so do chew thoroughly. Another way is to dip the tentacles in sesame oil and soy sauce.

2. Gaebul (Live Spoon Worms)

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Koreans love their seafood, whether cooked, raw or dare I say it, live. Spoon worms are a type of marine animal very commonly found in Korean fish markets. The phallic-like appearance of spoon worms, coupled with its rumored aphrodisiac properties, earned them the nickname of “penis fish”. Usually eaten raw and live, gaebul are usually cut into bite-sized pieces which continue to wriggle around on the plate, before they are popped into our oral cavities. Apparently, it tastes like saltwater.

3. Chueotang (Mudfish Soup)

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Most often found in the southern parts of Korea, Chueotang is a delicacy often touted for its health properties. It is often served to patients with high blood pressure and obesity problems, as it contains unsaturated fats which help in reducing cholesterol levels. In addition, it contains calcium, proteins, and vitamins and is also said to be great for the skin.

Chueotang is made by crushing and grounding entire mudfish, bones and all, and cooking it in a broth together with leeks, spring onions, doenjang (soybean paste), and gokchujang (red pepper paste).

4. Hongeo (Fermented Skate)

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Due to overfishing and low reproductive rates in recent years, skate has become an expensive delicacy in South Korea. Skates are similar to stingrays. You probably wouldn’t be able to tell them apart if you saw two next to each other.

As far as adventurous foods go, this one may be the winner. Hongeo is famous for its ammonia-like odor and the ability to make your eyes and mouth water at the same time. Raw fermented skate is served with various side dishes and is most common in the southern part of Korea.

5. Sundae (Blood Sausage)

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The UK has its black pudding, Puerto Rico enjoys morcilla, and South Korea loves its sundae. The country’s version of blood sausage is made by stuffing pig intestines with a concoction of blood, rice, green onions, pork, and noodles, and then steaming it. A popular street food, the dish is usually served alongside steamed liver, stomach, and other organ meat, or in a soup called sundaeguk.

Like many of Korea’s cuisines, each region of the country prepares the dish differently and incorporates various ingredients. Though the recipes may differ, all sundae is chewy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside, making for an interesting mixture of textures and flavors.

6. Beondaegi (Silkworm pupae)

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Often served with alcohol, beondaegi is essentially steamed or boiled silkworm pupae served in a cup, together with all the juice that is a result of the steaming. The snack can often be bought from street vendors, as well as in watering holes and restaurants. It is so popular that they are also sold in canned form in convenience stores and Korean markets outside of Korea.

It doesn’t taste disgusting or unusual, but the idea of having an insect in my mouth is reason enough for me to put it on this list.

7. Gejang (Raw Crabs)

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This dish is so popular that there is an entire alley dedicated to this delicacy. The literal translation of gejang is “crab condiment”.

These delightful little crabs are not cooked before consumption; instead, they are seasoned with various sauces and eaten raw. Interestingly another raw seafood dish of baby crabs is soft enough that you also eat the shells which are not unlike a slightly harder version of an M&M shell. These are very popular in Korea, and you will see bundles of these crabs tied together in chains at most fish markets.

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