Today is 말복(Malbok), one of the three hottest days of lunar calendar. Together with 초복(Chobok), 중복(Joongbok), these days of hot weather are called sambok (삼복) or boknal (복날)
초 means ‘beginning’, 중 means ‘middle’ and 말 means ‘end’, so 초복 is ‘the beginning of a hot summer’, 중복 is ‘the middle of a hot summer’ and ‘말복’ is ‘the end of a hot summer.
Traditionally on these three hottest days of summer, Korean people usually eat 삼계탕 (Samgyetang) hot chicken Ginseng soup, or 초계탕 (Chogyetang) cold chicken soup. The soup is a great way to recover stamina and it’s very nutritious. Eating hot soup on a hot day? For people from outside Korea this seems odd but here they believe that eating hot soup in a hot day is a great way to cool down!
There is even a Korean saying for this: 이열치열(Fight fire with fire!). After all when eating hot soup you will sweat, and this is the normal way for your body to drop the temperature!
If you are in Korea during sambok make sure to try Samgyettang!