The subject is a college freshman, born in South Korea before moving to the United States when they were 12 years old. I wanted to get to know more about any folklore they might have experienced growing up, so I conducted an interview with them to find out.
Subject: It’s said in a way, like, “You don’t have to taste the soy paste and shit to tell them apart.” I think I’ve told you this already.
Interviewer: Yup I remember this.
Subject: Like soy paste kinda looks like shit, but most people are aware enough, like, we know from afar. But people who are so stupid, or like, people who go the extra mile to be safe. We say, “why do you have to taste shit and soy paste to tell them apart, why can’t you just — why aren’t you smarter?”
Interviewer: So that’s basically what you say to someone when they’re being dumb?
Subject: Yeah, if you’re being stupid, you’re tasting soy paste and shit to tell them apart.
I tried looking up the phrase, however I was unable to find any substantive background to the saying. The subject went on to tell me additional proverbs from Korea that also have to do with food, leading me to believe that the culture may have a great appreciation for it.
While the United States pride themselves on fast meals, a staple of Asian culture is the dining experience. It’s communal and meant to be shared.