Food culture of each country is one the most interesting and exotic things to someone outside of it. When you're travelling in a foreign country, you just need to try out some of those never-before-seen kind of food exclusively native to the country. South Korea offers a number of seriously exotic food of its own that you should not miss out on.
Dakbal is directly translated "chicken feet" in English. For those from the western part of the world, the food might look scary but chicken feet has been widely used as a food ingredient in lots of Asian cultures. However Korean style dakbal is distinctive from other chicken feet cuisines in that Koreans have it as spicy as can be.
Sometimes consumed stir-fried, as stew, soup or grilled, the taste always stands HOT. It has been a trend in South Korea to have super spicy dakbal as a way of stress release. There are heaps of dakbal places that sell more and more spicy version of the food since the trend has been so sensational.
The appearance may not be the most appetizing thing ever, but once you try it, you will see why the food is so popular in the country. When you order dakbal in a restaurant, you might want to ask the chef if you can have it less spicy since it's usually burning hot. There are two types of dakbal meat ; bone-less or boned. The former will be easier for the first try.
OK, another surprisingly exotic food here. It's called Beondegi which refers to silkworm pupae, so they're basically baby bugs. I know! I don't even know where the culture started from in the first place but it has become the most commonly seen street food in the country. Beondegi is also one of the most popular anju (food consumed with alcohol) for ahjussi (referring to older guys) people.
The taste is slightly spicy, since it's boiled / steamed with hot peppers in it and mostly salty and savory. Probably tastes or smells like nothing you've ever tried before. If you can't find a street stall that sells Beondegi, go to the nearest convenience store, they usually sell it in a can. It only costs around 2,000 KRW (around $2), not a bad price for trying out one of the most exotic food of the country.
Sannakji means live octopus in Korean (San - Live, Nakji - Octopus). Think of it as octopus sashimi, only still vividly alive and moving on your table. Sannakji is a very popular anju to go with alcohol beverages and it's easy to find a restaurant that sells the dish. Obviously, you are not familiar with having raw fish, still moving as if it's screaming like "Help! Help!" but don't feel bad about eating sannkji, fish is scientifically proven to lack in the sense of pain.
Sannakji is usually served with sesame oil and salt and tastes really savory. The texture of live octopus is pleasantly chewy, but the tentacles might stick onto your tongue or inside your mouth so beware.
Toiji Kopdegi means pig skin in English. I said it right, the skin of pigs. In fact, pig skin is the rich source of collagen which largely enhances skin conditions. On the other hand the calorie is very low, so there was this "pig skin diet" sensation once. The taste? Of course super yum, and that's why it's so popular in South Korea.
Toiji Kopdegi is most commonly consumed in 2 ways ; stir-fried with hot chili paste or grilled BBQ style.
When grilled, it's usually complemented by ground bean powder, and I strongly recommend this version of Toiji Kopdegi, it's the original. Lots of K-BBQ places sell the dish along with samgyeopsal and again, it's one of the most popular anju in Korean drinking culture.
Also called seonji gukbap or seonji haejanghuk, seonjitguk is a soup made of clotted blood of beef. A soup made of clotted blood sounds terrifying, I know, but really it's super nutritious and tastes good, too.
The dish is most commonly perceived as a hangover soup in Korea since the broth helps heaps relieving it. You can have it either slightly spicy or plain, it depends on the restaurant.
Gopchang is a part of stock's intestines, usually referring to tripe of beef or pork. When it's beef tripe, it's usually grilled like BBQ alongside with loads of chives. Beef gopchang is more pricey and has more fat than that of pork's. The texture is mostly chewy and gummy.
Pork gopchang on the other hand is much cheaper and usually stir-fried with chili paste and various vegetables including cabbages, carrots, perilla leaves, onions, mushrooms etc. Sometimes fried with sundae, Korean sausage, pork gopchang is a combination of a variety of flavor. Pork gopchang is consumed in a few different styles ; stir-fried, stew or soup.