Early in our EPIK application process, a Korean man informed us there was definitely, absolutely, positively no raw fish in his country's cuisine. "It's not like sushi," he said seriously. "You don't need to worry about things like that."
I don't know why he lied to us.
It's a springtime custom here for teachers to go out together one evening to see the cherry blossoms and then share a special fish dinner. Special in this case means raw.
There truly isn't much raw food in Korean cooking. Even vegetables are cooked within an inch of their lives. But freshly butchered river fish is apparently an exception.
Our acquaintance was right about one thing, though. It isn't anything like sushi. There's nothing delicate about it, no slivers of meat wrapped artistically in a cushion of rice and seaweed. Here you get a big pile of dead fish. Think sashimi minus the painstaking presentation.
You mix the pieces of fish with salad greens and red pepper paste and go to town.
Traditionally, the second course is a spicy soup made from the remainders of the carcasses.
You don't eat the heads. You just exchange meaningful glances.