SEOUL — Most older South Koreans know exactly what “boodae chige” means. And most Americans in South Korea might be surprised to know it’s still around.

This week, South Korea police arrested two men in connection with trading food leftovers from U.S. installations and using them for boodae chige — literally, “base soup.”

Arrested were a Korean restaurant owner, identified only by his last name, Yoo, 62, and an employee of a dining facility at Yongsan base, identified only as Kim, 57. Park Doo-ki, Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency Investigations Division chief, said Yoo is accused of buying food scraps from Kim, then using them to make boodae soup.

Yoo has owned a boodae soup restaurant near Samgakji subway station for about 33 years. Park said police believe he entered into a secret deal with Kim in January 2001.

Boodae soup, a well-known Korean food, originated during the Korean War, when many South Koreans depended on relief supplies from other countries to counter severe food shortages; some even were provided with leftovers from U.S. bases. Processed meats such as ham, bacon and sausage became favorite ingredients, providing badly needed protein. The meats were boiled with kimchi and other Korean seasonings to make boodae soup. Because of its unique fusion taste, many Koreans still enjoy it, often using fresh ingredients instead of leftovers.

But Yoo is accused of keeping it more traditional. After a caller tipped police to the scheme, his secret ingredients were shown to be U.S. base leftovers, Park said.

Police have accused Kim of hoarding the food on base, saying he would use it to feed animals, then selling it for 2,000 won per 600 grams, or $1.60 per 1.3 pounds. According to police, Yoo said he has sold more than $250,000 worth of his boodae soup. Police officials said they confiscated more than 35 pounds of ingredients when they arrested him.

The confiscated food contains hamburger steak, marinated beef, ham, steak, and sausage. Police said they were examining the foodstuffs for bacteria that could cause food poisoning.

The two, accused of violating food sanitation laws, will be handed over to the prosecutor’s office in 10 days, police said.

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