From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alternative namesSeaweed soup
Place of originKorea
Main ingredientsBrown seaweed or Wakame
Korean name
Revised Romanizationmiyeok-guk

Miyeok-guk[1] (미역국) (also rendered as miyuk guk) or seaweed soup[1] is a non-spicy Korean soup whose main ingredient is miyeok, or seaweed. It is traditionally eaten as a birthday breakfast in honor of one's mother and by women who have given birth for several months postpartum.


Miyeok-guk is rare among Korean soups in that it has no spicy ingredients.[2] The main ingredient is miyeok, also known as sea mustard.[2] It is typically prepared from dried product, and is in appearance brown tangled strands.[2] To prepare, the seaweed is rehydrated, drained, chopped, sauteed with garlic and sesame oil, then simmered in beef or fish stock.[2]

History and culture[edit]

Women traditionally eat the soup for several months after giving birth.[3] The practice of eating seaweed soup after giving birth is believed to date to the Goryeo Dynasty and started because people noticed whales eating seaweed after giving birth.[4][5] Traditionally the soup symbolizes and honors Samsin Halmoni, a goddess who helps women through pregnancy and childbirth.[4][5] People consuming the soup on their birthdays are honoring their mothers for giving birth to them.[4][2][6]

People also eat the soup for breakfast on their birthdays in honor of their mother. As part of birthday celebrations, guests are served miyeok-guk along with rice cakes and other traditional foods. Miyeok-guk is also eaten outside of special occasions during the rest of the year. It is a very common side dish served with rice.[4][2]

Health benefits[edit]

Seaweed is a good source of vitamin K, an essential vitamin, which is an important factor in blood-clotting. Eating miyeok-guk that contains a cup of seaweed enables one to absorb around 22% of the recommended daily vitamin K requirement for women and 29% of the recommended daily vitamin K requirement for men.[citation needed]

Popular belief[edit]

A dictionary published by the Hangeul Society in 1957 notes that "Eating Miyeok-guk" was defined as "a word that means an organization dissolves or falls apart." This is believed to have originated from the fact that when the Joseon Army was disbanded, it could not express it directly, instead stating "I ate Miyeok-guk."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b (in Korean) "주요 한식명(200개) 로마자 표기 및 번역(영, 중, 일) 표준안" [Standardized Romanizations and Translations (English, Chinese, and Japanese) of (200) Major Korean Dishes] (PDF). National Institute of Korean Language. 2014-07-30. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-01-23. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Imatome-Yun, Naomi (26 November 2021). "Simple Korean Seaweed Birthday Soup". The Spruce Eats. Archived from the original on 2022-06-26. Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  3. ^ Charlton, Lauretta (2024-01-28). "For New Moms in Seoul, 3 Weeks of Pampering and Sleep at a Joriwon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2024-02-07. Retrieved 2024-02-08.
  4. ^ a b c d "Korean Seaweed Soup: How seaweed soup became Korea's traditional birthday dish?". The Times of India. 2021-09-20. Archived from the original on 2022-06-15. Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  5. ^ a b Kim, Grace (16 September 2021). "Why do Koreans eat seaweed soup on their birthdays? The answer 'whale' surprise you". www.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 2022-06-15. Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  6. ^ (in Korean) Miyeokguk at Doosan Encyclopedia
  7. ^ 김, 준 광주전남연구원 책임연구원 (2021-04-23). "실패의 상징 '미역국 먹었다', 구한말 군대 강제해산 자조적 표현에서 유래". 영남일보 (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2021-05-13. Retrieved 2021-05-13.

External links[edit]