Test your knowledge of Korea with our weekly quiz on the language, culture, history or anything K-related. -- Ed.
Which of the following best explains the meaning of "kong garu” (soybean powder) in the dialogue below?
Find the answer at the bottom of the page.
Soybean powder is a special ingredient that goes with several Korean delicacies; sprinkling it over injeolmi or gyeongdan rice cakes can be transformative.
But its flavor turns sour when used in reference to a family.
A soybean powder-like family, or "kong garu gajok," means an abnormal, dysfunctional family whose members don’t stick together.
This expression derives from the fact that soybean powder, unlike powdered rice or flour, does not lump together.
So when a family is likened to it, it means that its members do not get along with each other and show no love or respect toward each other.
The term would expand to also refer to a family in which members’ moral standards are very questionable.
The expression can be heard describing a family of insurance scammers or a parent-child duo swindling money off people.
Many Korean TV dramas revolve around such soybean powder families with occasional appearances of evil stepmothers, illegitimate children or siblings warring over inheritance money.