Street Food (2019) s01e06 Episode Script

Seoul, South Korea

[folk music.]
[Yoonsun, in Korean.]
Koreans usually do not share their feelings openly.
We just keep our negative emotions deep in ourselves where they stay internalized like a part of our hearts.
We call that "han.
" I feel han a lot at the market.
I've endured this han because I have to provide for my family.
I'll do whatever it takes for the next generation to have a better life.
That's the Korean way.
[distant car honking.]
[crickets chirping.]
For foreigners, Seoul is just the capital of Korea.
But for Koreans, Seoul is a rapidly changing city that's losing its traditions.
Korean society was very traditional and it was not open to foreign countries until 1883.
But various foreign cultures started to enter Korea in the 1900s, and they deeply influenced the lives of Koreans up to this day.
[in English.]
There is a culture clash in Korea.
There are coffee shops on every corner.
Some places people will do brand new types of street food and other places, old favorites.
Gwangjang Market is one of the best places for traditional Korean food in the country.
It's a chaotic paradise of food.
You have steam going everywhere and people passing and yelling at you to sit down.
People come to Gwangjang Market because they know that they can get real Korean food, for example, soy marinated crabs.
Tteok-bokki which is spicy rice cake meals.
Mayak Kimbap which are rice rolls.
Mung bean pancakes.
The kimchi dumplings, pork dumplings, and kalguksu or knife-cut noodles.
Within Gwangjang Market, you can find the bubble at Cho Yoonsun's stall.
When you go there, you feel like you're part of her family.
[in Korean.]
 It's fun.
[Daniel, in English.]
Her knife-cut noodles are the best ones in the market.
Her broth has a richness to it, and she serves it with absolutely sublime kimchi.
[in Korean.]
Would you like some more noodles, ma'am? You can have more.
Are you full? [in English.]
She has spent over a decade perfecting her dish, staking in a very ordinary sort of dish and elevating it.
Her food tastes like home.
[distant bottles clinking.]
[Yoonsun, in Korean.]
I was so naive before I started working at the market.
But the market changed me.
[upbeat music.]
The challenges I experienced there really thickened my skin.
- These are 3,000 won each? - [vendor 1.]
3,000 won.
Cucumbers are not very fresh these days.
Ah, right.
If you are a vendor in Gwangjang Market, it's like a jungle.
The competition is fierce, working there is a ruling marathon.
In the winter, it's freezing cold and you're washing dishes with water that should be ice.
In summer, it's so hot, you're constantly sweating through every layer of clothes.
Ma'am, I need some ground meat.
I'll take beef.
- Yes.
- [vendor 2.]
You said beef, right? [Yoonsun.]
It's like every day is a battle, but I'm always ready.
Thank you.
[upbeat music.]
In Korea, we don't complain about work.
No matter how tired I am, I always show up to cook.
In the end, it's worth it every time I see customers enjoying my food.
[in Korean.]
Seoul is a city that has been through upheavals throughout its history.
The Korean War occurred in June 1950, and went on for four years.
A lot of facilities in the nation were destroyed by the war.
There were no victors.
Many women were widowed, so they had to sell food on the street to make a living.
[lively music.]
My grandmother started this stall in 1952, and I've been running it up to this day.
Would you like to try this? [Gunsook.]
Many years ago, Korea was going through a rough time because of the war.
The priority was to find food to eat.
There were no refrigerators, so many foods were preserved in salt and stored away.
Since people still enjoy them, we sell these pickled side dishes.
But now, the main sellers are spicy raw crabs and soy-marinated crabs.
When we first get the crab, cleaning it is the important thing.
We boil and cool the sauce in a traditional way, one day in advance.
Then we put the clean crabs in a barrel and pour the sauce in.
The boiling and pouring process is repeated three times.
- Um, how much is it for one crab? - It's 20,000 won.
- I'll take one, please.
- Sure.
How do you know if there are eggs in there? [Gunsook.]
You can tell it by the shape.
The round ones are females.
This one has eggs? The ones we marinate in soy sauce all have eggs.
- [Gunsook.]
- [Daniel.]
[both chuckle.]
Soy marinated crab is a buttery, salty flavor bomb that just explodes in your mouth.
It's like ceviche, but with soy sauce.
It's tough work but I can handle it.
I was born in Seoul after the war.
When I was a child, we were very poor.
There wasn't enough food, so everything was divided evenly amongst everyone.
The United States provided South Korea with flour as aid.
My mother would receive rations of flour and use it to make knife-cut noodles.
I often watched my mother cook.
And I really enjoyed it.
That's when I discovered my love for flour.
When I touched and kneaded the flour, I really liked the feel of it.
It felt like a baby's bottom.
The flour was so soft and delicate.
It just felt so nice.
The making of kimchi and knife-cut noodles got passed down from mothers to their children.
My mother taught me how to cook Korean dishes.
And I'm very grateful for that.
In the 1970s, Koreans needed a way to improve their quality of life after the war.
So the New Village Movement began as a nationwide effort to rebuild the country.
The Korean people worked really hard so that their children wouldn't have to go through the same hardships that they went through.
That's when women came out to work, and started selling home-cooked meals, like mung bean pancakes.
Bindae-tteok is a mung bean pancake.
They are made with mung beans that are soaked overnight, and it's always made using a special stone grinder because you have to get the beans fine enough, in order to fry them up in the oil.
[lively music.]
As far as I know, mung bean pancakes have been a common and popular food.
It's a classic in Gwangjang Market.
My grandmother and mother used to run this stall.
Now, I run it with my mother.
The mung bean pancake business is really hard.
I've been working at the market for about 40 years.
Ever since we started the business, I've experienced a lot of hardships.
I slept only three or four hours a night for the first two years.
Now eat a piece of onion.
See, this guy knows how to eat.
He's eating onions with it.
You can put that down there.
Four years ago, I was working at a research laboratory.
There were taxes and other issues with the business that my parents were struggling with, so I decided to work here and help out.
I always wanted to expand the business, so I opened two new stores.
For these stalls to last 100 years or more, it's important that they are passed down through generations.
Komi, Coco, see you later.
- Give mommy a kiss.
- Kiss.
Give mommy a kiss.
Mommy will be back later.
I'll be back later.
- [man 2.]
Have a good day.
- [Yoonsun.]
- Mommy will be back later.
- [dog squeals.]
[dog barks.]
While my two kids were growing up, I was a stay-at-home mom.
But 11 years ago, everything changed.
My husband got into a lot of debt while running his own business.
For ten years, he drained our savings.
Every time our phone rang late at night, my husband was always terribly frightened.
It was almost always the debt collectors calling to threaten us.
This kind of thing happened frequently.
We couldn't live a normal life anymore.
Hurry up and get started.
The water isn't boiling yet, is it? [staff.]
It's boiling.
People who have never been in debt don't know how scary it is.
We were about to lose our house, so I was in despair.
That's when I thought I needed to earn money.
At that time, my in-laws were working at Gwangjang Market.
So they arranged for me to open a stall there.
I had no other choice back then.
It's hot, so use a small plate.
When I started working at the market, I took over a stall that sells blood sausage.
Even though I really hated the smell of blood sausage, I had to spend an entire day selling it.
It was the only way I could keep the regular customers.
Things just got worse from there.
Come on over, ma'am.
Koreans talk about three kinds of jealousy.
One being jealousy among shopkeepers.
I realized how terrifying this jealousy was when I started working at the market.
Sir, it's really cool back here.
It's cool back here.
It's the coolest spot.
Cold bean noodles, hand-cut noodles.
Come on over.
Delicious cold bean noodles.
Come on over.
One time, when I got to work in the morning, I found garbage left in front of my stall.
Then the other vendors started yelling, "The market is dirty because of you.
" I couldn't believe it.
They just couldn't handle the idea of a new vendor.
I had never heard so many curse words directed at me.
I was so shocked, and I often cried because of it.
But I had customers and people walking by.
I couldn't show them that I was crying.
So, I pretended to get something from the fridge and dabbed my eyes.
[tense music.]
I felt han every day at the market.
[indistinct chatter.]
With modernization and globalization, the vendors in South Korea are constantly trying to innovate because there is so much competition.
And so what they might to do is tweak a familiar sort of food.
I sell a baked rice dish called baffle.
It's a mixture of Korean food ingredients that can be served as a meal.
The baffle is made of rice baked in a hot pan topped with an egg, cabbage, bacon or shrimp, then a milk sauce, a brown sauce, a chili sauce, and topped with little fish flakes.
It's kind of like a really messed up English muffin with egg.
At my old job, I was so busy that I didn't have time to order lunch.
So, I tried frying leftover rice in a waffle maker, which led to my inventions of the baffle.
It is fusion food for the young generation.
Innovative foods are becoming the new face of Korean street food.
I want the baffle to be known as a staple of Korean food.
Life at the market was horrible.
When I got there in the morning, I would feel a pressure on my chest, and I would think, "I hope nothing bad happens today.
" I wanted to give up so many times, but there was only one reason I couldn't to save my family.
Then I thought, "Maybe I can succeed if I do something I enjoy.
" I realized that the best way to help my family would be to cook what I love most.
So, I decided to start selling knife-cut noodles.
The kind my mom made for me when I was a kid.
Then, I started adding shrimp to my broth because I knew it would add a sweet flavor.
When I added carrots and chives as a garnish, the other vendors said, "Don't do it.
Don't do that.
" But I didn't care.
I did it my way.
When I switched to selling noodles, more customers started coming to my stall.
I got so busy that I had to start hiring employees.
Do you want both meat and kimchi dumplings on your hand-cut noodles? Yes.
And one by one, I started paying off our debts.
When I paid off the last one, I shouted, "It's over, it's okay now.
There's nothing left to pay for, and we're okay!" The relief just spilled out of my mouth.
For the first time, I felt in charge of my own life.
[woman speaking in distance.]
It's much harder to find the old traditional food in Korea because people don't want to put in the time or effort into making it.
The only place you can find these foods are the traditional markets like Gwangjang Market.
In the past, selling street foods was one of the ways to make a living.
But these days, it has become the place where people experiment with new ideas.
I want the baffle to be known as new Korean street food.
The future is bright for Korean street foods.
As our business grew and we opened more locations, we hired more employees.
For my parents and grandparents, this place was their life.
To me, this a place that I want to protect.
I'm following my grandmother's footsteps, [Gunsook.]
I failed a lot at first, but good stories always start with failure.
Koreans have a saying that you get knocked down for seven times, you get up eight.
You never give up.
You never call it a day, and Cho Yoonsun is the perfect example.
[light music.]
I've endured those 11 years, paying off our debts, and now, my family is secure.
I supported my kids through college, and my younger son even went to a culinary school.
My husband and I are still together, and he thinks of me as his savior.
Now I have many regular customers, and I feel like they're my family, too.
[lively music.]
This is my spot.
I handle ducks and BBQ here.
As you can see, the chef stir-fries over there.
I always wanted to see.
- You did? - Yes.
It's good to have a chance to show you around.
- [Soohwan laughs.]
- [Yoonsun.]
Nice to meet you.
He's very good with the wok.
I've never seen anyone work as hard as my mother.
Like a giving tree, she provided everything for us kids.
Handling the wok must be difficult, right? - [Soohwan.]
It is difficult.
- [Yoonsun.]
It's heavy and it's also hot in there.
The wok gets hot, too.
I work at a Chinese restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel.
I considered working at the market before, but I didn't think I would be able to cope with the harsh environment there.
That's why.
When I think of my mother, I reaffirm my resolution that I must succeed.
She is an extraordinary mother who overcame tremendous challenges.
Vendors continue to be territorial, but it doesn't bother me anymore.
I feel fortunate that the market made me more thick-skinned.
It gave me strength, and enabled me to provide a roof for my family.
When I realized my kids wouldn't have to struggle with debts, I was over the rainbow.
And I'll make sure it won't happen again.
[folk music.]
Subtitle translation by Wayne Yoo