Why Koreans say “Cool” when eating the spicy food-Part 1

The popular question from foreigners to Korean is why they say “cool” when eating the spicy food.  Some of my friends especially men say “It’s cool(called Shi-won-ha-da/시원하다 in Korean)” when eating the spicy or hot food.

Shi-won-ha-da is the multiple meaning word and the first meaning is “cool” in English. Second is said after eating the hot food. Today I will introduce about the cool’ second meaning. However, when I thought about the cool(Shi-won-ha-da)meaning, I recognised Korean say this word frequently in many situation with multiple meaning. So in the part 1, I will introduce the cool meaning which is connected with the food, and in the next part 2, I will introduce the other cool meaning which is used in the others situation.

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This is the one of the scene of the Shin ramen(Korean noodle) advertisement and this person is PSY(Korean signer). In my opinion, this face represent the “Shi-won-ha-da”(cool) meaning well. As eating the spicy and hot food, he feels this hot feeling. However, this burning feeling also makes all the stress out and that’s one of the reasons why Korean says Shi-won-ha-da(cool).

When I was young, I could not understand why Korean middle-age men say cool during eating the hot soup. However, as I grow up in Korea I got stronger in the hot food and also could understand what does the cool mean. In fact, I could not eat Kimchi and every spicy Korean food until when I was in seven years old. I could only eat white Kimchi which is not spicy, or I ate Kimchi only after I wash it in water. However, I was continuously exposed in spicy food that I could be stronger in spicy food little by little.

Since I was in high school, sometimes I’ve started to say “cool” when eating the hot food. According to my experience, this cool is the word which expressing the refreshed and fresh feeling. When we eat the hot food, the sweat comes out. Base on my experience, when I eat spicy food I feel the bad wastes is coming out from the body and feel it cool. Also when I eat the spicy or hot food ,the sweat comes out from my body and the sweat is getting evaporate that it makes the body temperature lower. As the body temperature is getting lower, I feel it cool.

These are the examples when Korean say “Shi-won-ha-da”(Cool)

1. When eating the spicy food: this cool means refreshed.

2. When eating the hot soup(high temperature liquid): If you eat the hot soup, you could feel the liquid is passing the throat. I also like to eat the hot soup especially in winter and sometimes burned the roof of my mouth. It feels like my throat got cleaned and say cool. I think this is similar as the throat burning feeling when drinking the strong liquids.

The cool(Shi-won-ha-da)meaning is quite complicated and the meaning could be slightly different depends on the people that I’m not sure If I explained well about it. But I was trying to explain specifically of the meaning based on my experience.:) If you have any question or have the different idea, please leave the comment.

In next week, I will introduce about the rest of the Cool(Shi-won-ha-da) meaning.

Thanks for reading.:)

4 thoughts on “Why Koreans say “Cool” when eating the spicy food-Part 1

  1. Hi
    Can you help me find a Name for my fashion-Korean store?
    It should mean something like : brand new, trend, fresh, interesting

        • I’m not sure if I understand your question well. But as you required the meaning of brand new, fresh, interesting, in Korean is 새로운, 신선한, 흥미로운.
          Among these three, for me 새로운 is better for the store name.

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