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Korean Culture and Cuisine, Essay Example

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The Korean population has over 70 million people that speak Korean, which is considered a part of the Tungusic branch from the Ural-Altaic language families. The language has a very close relationship with the Japanese traditional grammar and language style of speaking(EveryCulture,2015). The rich history and culture of Korean people go back as early as 500,000 B.C. in the Korean Peninsula populated by Paleolithic people (Asian Info,2015).  In addition, the Korean people tradition and culture has been kept and somehow the foundation of Korean culture has remained unchanged. The Korean people have been through wars, North and South differences and many environmental, social and political changes while documenting their traditions in detail.  The Korean culture and cuisine has evolved through social and political change, natural environment changes and different cultural trends. Korean cuisine has a basic food combination of steamed cooked rice, vegetables and some meats. The changes in the Korean cuisine originated from their migrations to different parts of the country from village to region to national locations. Korean traditional cooking has many side dishes called banchan such as Kimchi served with every side dish delicacy (China Business Weekly,2011). The tradition of the Korean meals has the following characteristics such as rice, kimchi, bulgoi, and spicy cold noodles. In addition, the cuisine is spicy, tasty, sour and sweet with shrimp, squid, mushrooms and vegetables (Home Cook Dairy,2011).

The Korean culture, tradition and cuisine is integrated is the fabric of their existence from generations of heritage and social tendencies that has not changed. The family combines any event for the family with a specific meal for that occasion and culture rituals that follow any celebration. The Korean people take offense when traditional dishes are not followed exactly the way it was taught by their forefathers. The entire Korean family is held accountable for ensuring these traditions are not altered, changed or any outside influence.  The Korean tradition that remains in place for the family is the mandatory respect for the elderly. The ultimate respect for the elderly is everyone bowing and recognizing their contributions to the family while still be a leader of the community and family (Korean Times, 2008).

Korea has a long and rich tradition of excellent cuisine with deep roots with significant historical and cultural customs. One the major heritage accomplishments of Korea have been their ability to preserved their original customs and traditions from generations to generations. The Korean culture is based on humility, sincerity and gratitude when meeting a person, eating with friends or family and praying is important. Their etiquette is being humble by bowing which is the same as a handshake (Golden,2012).  Korea is one the few countries that has been through social and political turmoil but managed to keep the foundation and roots of their ancestors in place. Some countries have many different influences from other ethnic contributors however,

The Korean people have managed to keep outside influence from changing their long established culinary identity. The Korean people originate from the Korean Peninsula where the different clans share a very common speaking language, culture and ethnic identity.  The Korean people have some significant regional differences between South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. They both shared the same culture and cuisine traditions with a strong sense of national pride and purpose. The modern North and South Korean both keep all the traditional cultural customs in the rural parts of the country and in the city. The Korean elderly make sure that the younger generations understands the significance of keeping the culture and heritage alive and relevant. The culture of the Korean people holds the elderly in the highest esteem and celebrate their life and death as custom that the elderly should never be forgotten.

The lifestyle of the Korean keeps the culinary identity regardless whether they live in the city in apartments or in the rural area with traditional housing. The new millennium has ushered in the new technology and lifestyles changes nevertheless; the Korean people remain true to the traditional values.

Korean Etiquette

The Koreans have a humble nature that is very conscious of their speech and behavior in social settings. The husband and wife have a balance in the family with the etiquette of the male taking the lead in all situations in public. The Korean people have a naming etiquette that consist of how to address each other such as using titles instead of names (Every Culture,2015).

The best example the teacher would be respected by calling him professor or manager, or director and president. The hierarchical relationship in the Korean social world is followed regardless of business or personal relationships in the home. The Koreans have the cultural etiquette to being respectful of those that are your peers or on the same social level consequently higher status Korean people must be limited with social interactions. The Koreans will bow in respect to others they greet that position demand respect but the etiquette they use is bowing just a little bit lower for those with high statuses. The etiquette habits by Koreans of bowing has significant meaning in the Korean society and families engrain this tradition into their children for life (Korean Times,2008).

The Korean people believe that being on time is an etiquette that must not be ignored. In their culture it is believed that making an appointment or promising to attend an event is taken seriously. The North and South Koreans emphasize meeting deadlines and they believe that punctuality is a sign of respect for locals and any foreigners. Koreans believe it personal etiquette to work hard and diligently without compliant of hours or how hard the task or work. Koreans considered it rude and unprofessional to leave the job early before the executive boss.

Korean Cuisine (Royal Family)

The Korean cuisine has a fundamental foundation of rice which is the primary food of the Korean people that is eaten with literary every meal. The north has a traditional of corn, rice, wheat, barley, corn, while other cuisine traditions include vegetables such as cabbage and turnips(Thorn,2013). The Korean people may have North and South regions with different philosophical and political differences however the foundation of Korean cuisine has evolved from the dishes and techniques without being tainted with outside cultures. The Korean royal palace follows the cultural ways that all Koreans use to prepare their cuisine that are very elaborate.

The Korean culture regardless of royal palace or North or South Korean, Kimchi is a mandatory tradition made of fermented chili sauce, anchovies and cabbage that is authentic spicy and sour taste (Golden,2012). The Royal palace foods have a reputation of being exquisite, extravagant and meticulously prepared by Korean women. The traditional of drinking has its significance in the royal palace because the pouring of a drink is considered a matter of respect for the elderly. The Korean drinking culture has a long history never pouring one’s own drink. This ritual is an act of respect because the pouring of a drink for the elder, one must put their hand over their heart to show a sign of earned respect of the elder(Steinberg,2012).

The Korean royal palace families kept the tradition of Korean food in tact by training women to learn all the cultural and heritage concerning Korean cuisine. These women had different palace positions specifically to learn the history and all the different aspects of Korean food preparation (Visit Korea,2015).  The cuisines were documented and learned by the royal families passing down the original recipes and traditions of the Korean cuisine. The kings and queens had the power to control the entire community or region eating regiments by demanding all food follow the thousands of years of tradition. The peasants did not enjoy the same level of extravagant food as the royal family but the recipes were the same.

The royal family has the basics meals of steamed rice, kimchi and fish with characteristics of lots of spices, fermentation and variety of side dishes (Visit Korea,2015). The royal families can be credited for ensure the traditions and Korean cuisine remains unchanged well into the future. In addition, they can be credited for keeping all the Korean etiquettes and traditions in place for future generations. In the Korean culture the etiquette of eating was a part of the cultural experience that was passed down from generations to generations. These cuisine moments were used to shared food recipes, social behaviors, historical, mythical, social and political ideas(Steinberg,2012). The royal queens and kings found that the cultural traditions must be handed-down allowed the peasants to eat the same Korean meals but not in the same grandiose fashion as royalty. The king and queen has the power to change the tradition however, they have been taught to follow the tradition of Korean cuisine, culture and heritage with opposition.

Korean Culture

The most important tradition that has been passed down for many generations is the family comes first above everything in Korean lifetime. This is an essential tradition of the Korean family culture which is never challenge from clan to clan. The father is always the head of the household handling all affairs outside of the home which women are not allowed. The father takes care of the shelter, food, and chooses the martial relationships of the entire family.  The religious aspect of Korean family culture is following the teachings of Confucius. There is a set hierarchical of the family that starts with the eldest son who will earn his manhood as the right arm of the family but respecting father’s decisions. This hierarchical model has influence from the Confucius teachings that stress family, community, duty, truthfulness and family honor.  The personal feelings, dreams and hopes of the individual in the Korean family is never more important that the goal of the family well-being first.

The Korea culture have an enriched, enduring and beautiful background that has been built over centuries keeping the traditions the same without integration of other cultures. The family traditions are evident because Korean people do not put their parents or grandparents in the nursing home. They spend their lives committed to the help and welfare of the parents and they never forget them with annual memorials on the day of their death. The Korean family praises the elderly ensuring they are involved with every activity and event as advisors. However, the father is the head of the household but the grandparents have a tradition of quietly making decisions to help the father. The father as the head of the household is more than just a gender tradition because the male of the household will be held responsible for the actions of their children. As result, the incorrect behavior of the wife or children will not be held responsible because it’s the father that must make sure everyone is living in the Korean tradition.

There is a specific order that makes the Korean culture work because the traditions such as dressing remains the same as their forefathers. These artful and artistic clothing represents their character and personality as Korean people. The women embrace their place in the long traditional of the household dominated by the men. The Korea’s women culture has a tradition of wearing a conservative dress called hanbok. The women’s daily look involves a hanbok with a plain blouse and a very full skirt that reaches down to her ankles. The women’s blouse is traditionally wrap and tied at the waist with long full sleeves to prevent any thoughts of improprieties. The women wear a petticoat to increase her thickness to hide the body and the men wear baggy trousers which all outfits are artfully crafted.  The culture of dressing by the Korean people is representative of their way of life by remaining true to the Korean heritage.

Asian Info. (2015). The people of Korea: Brief History. Retrieved from http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/korea/people.htm

China Business Newsweekly. (2011, Feb). Korean food foundation; Emmy-award winner Kelly Choi to reveal the delicious secret of Korean cuisine.  China Business Newsweekly Retrieved from ProQuest Database at http://search.proquest.com/docview/850517044?accountid=34899

Every Culture. (2015). South Korea: Identification. Retrieved from http://www.everyculture.com/Ja-Ma/South-Korea.html

Golden, C. (2012). Craving Korean: for an authentic taste of the new ‘it’ cuisine, start your food adventure in L.A.’s Koreatown. Here’s where to go and what to try. Sunset , (3). 64.

Home Cooking Dairy. (2011). Top 10 most popular Korean foods. Retrieved from http://www.homecookingdiary.com/2011/06/top-10-most-popular-korean-foods.html

Korean Times. (2008, Mar). Tips on Korean custom of bowing. Retrieved from http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2010/08/177_23339.html

Steinberg E. (2012). Korean Cuisine: An illustrated history. Asian Perspectives: The Journal of Archaeology for Asia And The Pacific ; Vol. (1):132. Retrieved from General OneFile

Thorn, B. (2013). Consumers’ taste for Korean cuisine grows. Nation’s Restaurant News, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1435039490?accountid=34899

Visit Korea. (2015). Travel highlights. Retrieved from http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=259177

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Korean street food: A culinary journey through korea

The tantalizing world of Korean street food beckons food lovers from all corners of the globe. With its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and unique textures, Korean cuisine has gained immense popularity worldwide. From sizzling skewers of meat to piping hot bowls of noodles, Korean street food offers an irresistible culinary adventure. In this blog, we embark on a mouthwatering journey to explore the diverse and flavorful street food culture in Korea. Get ready to indulge your senses and discover the hidden gems of Korean street food.

Brief overview of Korean cuisine and its popularity

Korean cuisine is renowned for its emphasis on fresh ingredients, balanced flavors, and healthful cooking techniques. It has gained tremendous popularity in recent years, with Korean restaurants and dishes appearing in cities around the world. Korean cuisine's popularity can be attributed to its bold and savory flavors, the health benefits of its traditional ingredients, and the growing interest in global flavors.

The cultural mosaic through street food

  • Korean street food reflects the diverse regional flavors and cultural influences present throughout the country.
  • Each region offers its own specialties, ingredients, and cooking techniques, providing a glimpse into the cultural mosaic that makes up Korean cuisine.

Unveiling the Treasures of Korean Street Food

Traditional Street Food Delights

  • Explore iconic street food dishes like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), sundae (blood sausage), and hotteok (sweet pancakes).
  • Discover the ingredients, cooking techniques, and historical significance behind these beloved street food classics.

Modern and Fusion Creations

  • Witness the emergence of modern and fusion street food in Korea, blending traditional flavors with global influences.
  • Delve into popular modern street food items like cheese corn dogs, ramen burgers, and unique culinary mashups that push the boundaries of taste.

Traditional Korean Street Food

Traditional Korean Street Food

Image credit: via pinterest 

Overview of traditional Korean street food

The vibrant street food scene in Korea has a rich history and is deeply rooted in the country's culinary traditions. Korean street food is known for its affordable prices, convenient availability, and mouthwatering flavors. Street food stalls, known as pojangmacha, can be found throughout bustling markets, shopping streets, and even residential areas.

Popular dishes like tteokbokki, sundae, and hotteok:

  • Tteokbokki: A beloved street food dish consisting of chewy rice cakes cooked in a spicy gochujang sauce. It is often accompanied by fish cakes, boiled eggs, and vegetables.
  • Sundae: Not to be confused with ice cream, sundae is a traditional Korean blood sausage made with a mixture of pork, glass noodles, and various seasonings. It is usually steamed or boiled and served with spicy sauce and vegetables.
  • Hotteok: A sweet and chewy pancake filled with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. It is griddled until golden and enjoyed piping hot.

Description of ingredients and cooking techniques:

  • Tteokbokki: The main ingredient is tteok, which are cylindrical rice cakes made from glutinous rice flour. The sauce is made from gochujang (fermented red chili paste), soy sauce, sugar, and other seasonings. The dish is typically stir-fried or simmered.
  • Sundae: The sausage casing is made from pig intestines stuffed with a mixture of finely chopped pork, glass noodles, vegetables (such as green onions and garlic), and seasoning. It is then cooked by steaming or boiling.
  • Hotteok: The pancake batter is made from a mixture of wheat flour, water, sugar, and yeast. The filling is made by combining brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. The pancake is pan-fried until crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.

Insight into the historical and cultural significance of these dishes

  • Tteokbokki: Originating from the Joseon Dynasty, tteokbokki was originally a royal court dish but eventually became popular as a street food. It reflects the use of rice, a staple ingredient in Korean cuisine, and the love for spicy flavors.
  • Sundae: Sundae has its roots in Korean sausages brought by Mongol invasions during the Goryeo Dynasty. Over time, it evolved into a popular street food dish that represents the resourcefulness of Koreans in using various parts of the pig.
  • Hotteok: Introduced during the early 20th century, hotteok is believed to have been influenced by Chinese stuffed pancakes. It has become an iconic street food snack that brings warmth and comfort, especially during the colder months.

Regional Variations in Street Food

Just as Korea boasts a diverse landscape and regional cultures, its street food scene varies across different regions. Each region offers its own unique flavors, ingredients, and local specialties, making the street food experience a culinary adventure.

Focus on Seoul, Busan, and Jeonju


Image credit: honestfoodtalks via web

As the capital city and culinary hub of Korea, Seoul is a treasure trove of street food delights. Its bustling markets like Namdaemun Market and Gwangjang Market are famous for a wide variety of street food offerings.

Signature street food dishes include:

  • Gyeran-bbang: Soft and fluffy egg bread filled with a whole egg, often enjoyed as a quick breakfast.
  • Jokbal: Tender and savory braised pig's trotters seasoned with soy sauce and spices.
  • Eomuk: Fish cakes served on skewers or in a warm soup, available in various flavors and textures.

Ssiat Hotteok

Image credit: mangoplate via web

As a coastal city renowned for its fresh seafood, Busan offers a unique twist to Korean street food. The Jagalchi Fish Market and Gukje Market are popular destinations for street food enthusiasts.

  • Milmyeon: Cold and chewy wheat noodles served with a spicy and tangy sauce, topped with various vegetables and often seafood.
  • Ssiat Hotteok: A variation of hotteok with a filling of seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower, adding a delightful crunch to the pancake.
  • Gukbap: A hearty soup made with beef or pork, served with rice and often enjoyed with kimchi.


Image credit: bonappetit via web

Jeonju is known as the food capital of Korea, renowned for its rich culinary heritage and traditional flavors.Hanok Village and Nambu Market are prominent spots to explore Jeonju's street food scene.

  • Bibimbap: A classic Korean dish consisting of a bowl of rice topped with an assortment of vegetables, meat, and gochujang sauce.
  • Kongnamul Gukbap: A comforting soybean sprout soup served with rice and various side dishes, representing Jeonju's emphasis on simple and nourishing flavors.
  • Jeonju-style kimbap: A unique variation of kimbap, a rice roll with various fillings, often incorporating Jeonju's famous bibimbap ingredients.  

Modern and Fusion Street Food  

In recent years, Korean street food has experienced a dynamic transformation with the emergence of modern and fusion creations. Inspired by global food trends and creative culinary experimentation, vendors have started offering innovative twists on traditional dishes and incorporating international flavors.

The globalization of food culture and the increasing popularity of Korean cuisine worldwide have played a significant role in shaping modern street food in Korea. Global food trends, such as the rise of food trucks, the popularity of comfort foods, and the fusion of different culinary traditions, have influenced Korean street food vendors to experiment with new flavors and techniques.

Examples of popular modern street food items:

  • Cheese Corn Dogs: A modern take on the classic corn dog, this street food delicacy features a hot dog on a stick coated in batter and deep-fried to perfection. What sets it apart is the addition of a generous layer of melted cheese on the outside, creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures.
  • Ramen Burgers: A fusion creation that combines elements of Korean and American cuisine, the ramen burger replaces the traditional burger bun with two discs of fried ramen noodles. The patty, often made with beef or pork, is sandwiched between the crispy ramen "buns," offering a unique and satisfying eating experience.

Impact of social media on the popularity and accessibility of these dishes  

Social media platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube, have played a significant role in popularizing modern and fusion street food in Korea. Food bloggers, influencers, and viral videos showcasing these innovative street food creations have created a buzz, attracting both local residents and international tourists. Social media platforms have made it easier for vendors to showcase their unique offerings, increasing the accessibility and visibility of these dishes to a wider audience.

Street Food Markets and Festivals

Street Food Markets and Festivals

Korea is famous for its bustling street food markets, where vendors showcase a wide array of mouthwatering delicacies. These markets are vibrant hubs of activity, offering visitors a sensory experience filled with delicious scents, colorful displays, and lively atmosphere. These festivals showcase a wide variety of street food vendors, providing a unique opportunity to sample different dishes and explore the diverse flavors of Korean cuisine.

Famous markets such as:     

Gwangjang Market:

Located in Seoul, Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Korea. It is renowned for its incredible street food scene, with numerous stalls offering a wide range of delectable treats. Visitors can enjoy classics like bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), mayak gimbap (bite-sized seaweed rice rolls), and yukhoe (Korean beef tartare).

Myeongdong Street:

Situated in the heart of Seoul, Myeongdong Street is a bustling shopping district that is also famous for its street food. Food carts and stalls line the streets, offering a variety of snacks and treats for visitors to indulge in. Some popular street food items found in Myeongdong include tteokbokki, hotteok, and Korean-style chicken skewers.  

Street Food Etiquette and Tips  

Korean dining etiquette emphasizes respect and communal dining. Common practices include using both hands to receive or pass dishes, using chopsticks and spoons appropriately, and waiting for the oldest or most senior person to begin eating before starting yourself.  Showing gratitude and compliments to the cook or vendor is also appreciated.  

Specific guidelines for enjoying street food in Korea

  • Observe the queue: If there is a line at a street food stall, join the queue and wait patiently for your turn.
  • Be mindful of the space: Street food stalls can be crowded, so be aware of your surroundings and avoid blocking pathways or congesting the area.
  • Dispose of trash properly: Use designated trash bins to dispose of wrappers, cups, and other food packaging. Keeping the street clean is important in Korean culture.

Tips for finding the best street food vendors and identifying quality offerings

  • Follow the locals: Pay attention to where locals are lining up or frequenting. Locals often know the best spots for delicious street food.  
  • Look for popular vendors: Long queues and high turnover of customers are usually indicators of a popular and reputable street food vendor.  
  • Cleanliness and hygiene: Check for cleanliness in the preparation area, utensils, and the vendor's overall appearance. This can be a good indicator of the vendor's commitment to hygiene and food safety.

Advice on navigating dietary restrictions or allergies while enjoying street food

  • Research common ingredients: Familiarize yourself with common ingredients used in Korean street food and check for any potential allergens.  
  • Communicate dietary restrictions: If you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies, communicate them clearly to the vendor. They may be able to suggest alternatives or provide ingredient information.  
  • Opt for made-to-order options: Choose street food items that are prepared fresh and made-to-order. This allows for better control over ingredient substitutions or exclusions.

Navigating street food with consideration for etiquette, quality, and dietary restrictions ensures an enjoyable and safe experience. By embracing Korean dining customs, being mindful of your surroundings, and seeking out reputable vendors, you can fully immerse yourself in the delightful flavors of Korean street food while respecting the local culture and community.  

Korean street food is a vibrant and diverse culinary realm that showcases the rich flavors and culinary heritage of Korea. From traditional favorites like tteokbokki and hotteok to modern fusion creations like cheese corn dogs and ramen burgers, Korean street food offers a captivating range of flavors, textures, and aromas. Each region within Korea boasts its own specialties and unique street food experiences, reflecting the country's diverse culinary landscape.

If you're a food enthusiast or an adventurous traveler, Korean street food is an absolute must-try. Embark on a culinary journey through bustling street markets, vibrant food stalls, and exciting street food festivals. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and tantalizing aromas as you savor the delicious offerings that Korean street food has to offer. Whether you find yourself wandering the bustling streets of Seoul, don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of Korean street food.

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Korean Food Culture

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Published: Mar 14, 2019

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korean cuisine essay

Food in Korean Culture: Describing Korean Cuisine

In Korea, food remains a unique attribute of the people’s culture. Korean citizens believe that food has medicinal properties that improve a person’s emotional, psychological, and mental well-being. Korean traditional food includes fermented cabbage, commonly known as kimchi, and soybean paste or doenjang. Korean chili, widely called chili paste, forms an important part of people’s diet. A wide range of vegetables, chili sauces, meat, and sea-foods are evident in Korean cuisine. Most people in this culture do not consume dairy products (Jeon 268). This analysis indicates that traditional Korean soup delivers unique health benefits. Meals are prepared and named as side dishes accompanying kimchi since it is the country’s staple food. At the same time, Korean households might waste a significant amount of food (Islam 410). A detailed examination of food in this culture becomes the best starting point for learning more about the people’s values.

Cultural Aspects Learned

From this exercise, I have learned several aspects about the Korean people and their culture. First, the study has revealed that Koreans identify food as the primary source of favorable health outcomes. The cuisine helps them improve their mental, physical, and psychological abilities, thereby contributing to numerous benefits. Second, food helps most people to practice and share their experiences, values, and traditions (Jeon 270). They usually come together to celebrate and show unity by promoting their cuisine. Such practices have allowed Koreans to develop a unique culture that guides and encourages them to continue pursuing their health and traditional goals.

Third, Koreans add different spices and components to season their foods. Some of the identified ones include garlic, tofu, and plant-based ingredients. This practice makes Korean cuisine healthy and capable of delivering numerous bodily benefits. Five, rice forms the staple source of food in the country’s diet (Jeon 272). The most exciting aspect of this analysis is that the people of Korea have a cuisine that differs from my culture. Specifically, grains, animal products, and potatoes are part of our diet. At the same time, we do not have kimchi or doenjang as these products are not part of our culture. I think it can result from the differences in mentalities and how countries evolved. Moreover, we do not consume much rice and tofu, while for Koreans, these are the major products in their diets. In such a way, Korean food differs from ours because of their culture and peculiarities of historical development. Traditional dishes of my culture are made of other products, and I believe they can be less healthy than Korean ones.

Personal Reflection

From a personal perspective, I strongly believe that Korean cuisine presents an opportunity to learn more about the aspects associated with Asian food culture. The completed exercise has been informative because it has widened my understanding of Koreans. As their cuisine appears to deliver numerous health benefits, I can borrow such a practice to reduce my consumption of junk food (Saxena et al. 271). This observation explains why I am ready to start focusing on foods that have medicinal or healing properties. More people could embrace such a practice since it will guide them to develop healthy bodies. They will be empowered to manage a wide range of conditions, such as obesity and stroke.

I believe that members of different communities can borrow numerous insights from the Koreans and the manner in which they relate to food. From the analysis, I have observed that various ceremonies and festivals are essential to the people of Korea. Consequently, citizens can embrace these initiatives if they want to realize their cultural goals. Based on the acquired ideas, people should begin to plan their diets in accordance with their cultural attributes. In conclusion, the studied notions revolving around cuisine can guide more individuals across the globe to take the issue of food seriously if they are to lead healthy lives.

Works Cited

Islam, Maidul. “Are Students Really Cautious about Food Waste? Korean Students’ Perception and Understanding of Food Waste.” Foods, vol. 9, no. 4, 2020, pp. 410-419.

Jeon, Do Hyun. “A Study on the Relationship between the Korean Wave, Preference and Recognition of Korean Cuisine among Chinese.” Journal of the Korean Society of Food Culture, vol. 34, no. 3, 2019, pp. 268-276.

Saxena, Priyanka, et al. “Food Security, Fruit and Vegetable Intake, and Chronic Conditions among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education Participants Attending Free Food and Produce Events.” Obesities, vol. 2, no. 3, 2022, pp. 264-275.

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South Korean and Japanese Cuisines and Identity Essay

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Korean Identity

Contemporary japan, globalizing world.


There is a famous quote saying that you are what you eat. Of course, it should not be understood literary, as our food cravings do not predicate our biological nature. The line rather describes the combination of values one is likely to carry, which can be evaluated according to their food preferences. Most countries have their distinct cuisine that was forming during many centuries. Food is not only the source of human nutrition processes, but it is also one of the brightest cultural examples. In such a way, one can predict certain traits or values of other people based on their food choices.

East Asia is one of the world’s regions that has a very distinct cuisine. People from this area associate themselves with their nationality, which includes food preferences. Japanese, Chinese, and other Asian restaurants are spread worldwide, and their kitchen cannot be confused with that of others. This paper reviews examples of South Korean and Japanese food that served as markers of national identity in the past. Yet, they are losing this determining role due to political shifts and the process of globalization.

Modern Korean land is divided into two halves, representing a separate country with an opposite economic structure. However, the food culture remains similar due to Korea’s long history as a single state, which experienced its internal cultural development and foreign influence. Nowadays, most research on this country is done regarding South Korea since its northern neighbor is not open to the world.

Colonial Past

In the past, Korea used to be one of the Japanese colonies. Although the two cultures had similar culinary products, many of them had differences in ingredients and making. For instance, soy sauce is a product that is currently viewed as traditional in East Asia, yet not many people are aware that the modern recipe is Japanese. Korean households used to brew their soy sauce, which was later replaced by the Japanese version 1 . This happened because Korean culture was not viewed as superior, and local citizens attempted to look better in the eyes of their rulers. Food as a part of this culture also had to correspond with Japanese civilization’s high standards. This is a bright example of associating food with identity, as Koreans wished to become closer to the superior nation by changing their food habits. Nowadays, another trend adds to the local soy sauce phenomena, as it is produced industrially instead of homemade. Koreans identify themselves as busy people who have no time to cook difficult recipes, which is the same for the rest of the modern world.

Modern Aspirations

As the country became independent and economically strong, Koreans received a need to promote their national pride. It is now normal to be proud of Korean culture and food in particular. Thus, the recent case of the first Korean astronaut created a precedent for developing a special recipe of kimchi, a national food, that could be taken to space 2 . Journalists compared this event with the tradition when mothers gave kimchi to their sons who left home. This is an example of how modern Koreans identify themselves through their national food, saying that they are more than proud to be a part of this culture, which has to be taken to outer space to sign their identity.

Unlike Korea, Japan did not experience the same foreign influence, except for the times in the XX century, when it had to assimilate to become an equal partner in the world’s economy and trade. Nowadays, Japanese culture is regarded as one of the most famous, yet still difficult for a foreigner’s understanding. For instance, the Japanese see raw food as the one ready for consumption, which has much to do with their perception of nature and its resources 3 . The philosophy of harmony with nature and oneself is one of the key principles of Japanese culture, which is achieved to keep past values.

Nowadays, boundaries between countries dissolve due to the economic processes, making different cultures blend. Japanese and Korean food are widely represented in the West, giving people from other cultures an opportunity to admire it from childhood. This trend makes the saying about food being a part of the identity to lose its positions. Although I acknowledge that this was the case in the past, modern reality demonstrates that Koreans can consume a lot of American food, and vice versa.

While food remained one of the national identity elements in the past, it was subject to changes for political or economic reasons. Nowadays, independent countries find pride in their food as a traditional element. However, the process of globalization threatens to exclude national cuisine as an identity feature.

Bestor, Theodore C. “Cuisine and Identity in Contemporary Japan.” In Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society , edited by Victoria Lyon Bestor, Theodore C. Bestor, and Akiko Yamagata, 273-285. Oxon: Routledge, 2011.

Cwiertka, Katarzyna J. “The Soy Sauce Industry in Korea: Scrutinizing the Legacy of Japanese Colonialism.” Asian Studies Review 30 (2006): 389-410.

Sang-Hun, Choe. “Kimchi Goes to Space, Along with First Korean Astronaut.” The New York Times , February 22, 2008.

  • Katarzyna J. Cwiertka “The Soy Sauce Industry in Korea: Scrutinizing the Legacy of Japanese Colonialism.” Asian Studies Review 30 (2006): 390.
  • Choe Sang-Hun, “Kimchi Goes to Space, Along with First Korean Astronaut.” The New York Times , February 22, 2008, para 2.
  • Theodore C. Bestor, “Cuisine and Identity in Contemporary Japan.” In Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society , ed. Victoria Lyon Bestor, Theodore C. Bestor, and Akiko Yamagata (Oxon: Routledge, 2011), 275.
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Korean Food Culture: A Brief History of Regional and Variant Cuisines

The Korean cuisine has evolved over the years. It’s been influenced by the country’s geography, climate, and agricultural practices. The Korean people have a unique way of preparing their food and believe in communal dining.

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In this post we'll cover:

The Evolution of Korean Cuisine: A Brief History

The significance of rice and starch in korean cuisine, the influence of nature on korean cuisine.

Korean cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s geography and climate. Korea is surrounded by the sea, and seafood is a significant part of the Korean diet. Grilled and raw seafood dishes are popular, and Koreans are known for their love of spicy food. The cheongyang pepper is a special Korean chilli pepper that is often used in Korean cuisine.

The Importance of Etiquette in Korean Dining

Nature’s role in shaping korean cuisine, the role of nature in cooking styles.

The way Korean food is prepared and cooked is also heavily influenced by nature. Here are some examples:

The Importance of Fresh Ingredients

The evolution of korean cuisine: a journey through the flavors of korea, the role of social and political interaction in korean cuisine.

Korean cuisine reflects the interaction between the environment, cultural traditions, and social and political development.

The Evolution of Korean Cuisine: A Look at the Diverse and Flavorful Dishes

Beef and seafood dishes.

Seafood dishes are also popular, with some of the most common including:

Cakes and Soups

Cooking techniques and seasoning.

Korean cuisine is known for its unique cooking techniques and seasoning. Some of the most common techniques include:

Changes and Varieties

Korean cuisine continues to evolve and change, with new dishes and recipes being created all the time. Whether you’re a fan of spicy stews or savory pancakes, there’s something for everyone in Korean cuisine.

The Sweet Side of Korean Cuisine

Chinese influences, modern sweet dishes.

Korean cuisine has evolved over the years, and this is also true for sweet dishes. Some modern sweet dishes that have become popular in recent years include:

Ingredients and Preparation

Regional and variant cuisines: the evolution of korean cuisine continues, variant cuisines: differences in ingredients and cooking techniques.

Even within the same region, there can be significant differences in the way a dish is prepared. For example:

Evolution of Korean Cuisine: From Traditional to Modern

Special cuisines: royal, buddhist, and temple food.

In addition to regional and variant cuisines, there are also special types of Korean cuisine that are linked to specific traditions and settings:

The Do’s and Don’ts of Korean Table Etiquette

Proper way to eat rice.

Rice is an essential element of Korean cuisine, and there is a proper way to eat it. The bowl of rice is set to the diner’s right, and they should pick it up with their right hand. It is important to take only what you can eat and not waste any food. When eating rice, it is customary to hold the bowl close to your mouth and use chopsticks to pick up the rice.

Rules for Eating Other Dishes

Drinking etiquette, conversation and other etiquette tips.

In addition to the rules for eating and drinking, there are other etiquette tips to keep in mind. When eating, it is important to eat slowly and take your time. It is also considered impolite to throw away food or touch items with your hands that are meant to be eaten with utensils. When speaking, it is important to remain respectful and avoid controversial topics. If you are a guest, it is important to refuse food or drink at least once before accepting it.

The Art of Setting the Korean Table

The typical korean table setting, the role of meat and seafood.

Despite the reputation of Korean cuisine as being mostly vegetarian, meat and seafood are also commonly consumed. Some of the most popular types of meat and seafood include:

The Importance of Table Setting in Korean Culture

Korean Cuisine | Korea | Cultural Flavors | EP 04

It’s been influenced by the country’s geography, climate, and agricultural practices, as well as the culture of the people. 

I hope you’ve learned a lot about the Korean cuisine from this article.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.

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Essay on Korean Culture

Students are often asked to write an essay on Korean Culture in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Korean Culture

Traditional clothing.

In Korea, the beautiful and colorful traditional dress is called hanbok. People wear it on special occasions like festivals and weddings. The hanbok has bright colors and simple lines without pockets. The dress is a symbol of Korean culture and is becoming popular again.

Delicious Food

Korean food is famous worldwide, especially dishes like kimchi, which is spicy fermented cabbage. Meals often include rice, vegetables, and meat. Korean barbecue is a favorite, where people cook meat right at the table and share with friends.

Popular Music and Drama

K-pop, short for Korean pop music, is a global sensation with bands like BTS and Blackpink. Korean dramas, or K-dramas, are TV shows that have captured hearts around the world with their interesting stories and emotions.

Important Holidays

Korea has unique holidays like Chuseok, which is like Thanksgiving. Families come together, eat special food, and remember their ancestors. Another holiday is Seollal, the Lunar New Year, when families celebrate with traditional games and food.

Respect for Elders

250 words essay on korean culture, introduction to korean culture.

Korean culture is a rich tapestry that combines traditional customs with modern life. It has a long history, and today, it is known worldwide because of music, movies, and food.

Traditional Korean Clothing

One of the first things you might think of is the hanbok, a traditional Korean dress. It’s colorful and worn on special days like festivals and weddings. The hanbok shows the beauty of Korean fashion from a long time ago.

Korean Food

Korean food is famous for being both tasty and healthy. Dishes like kimchi, which is spicy fermented cabbage, and bibimbap, a bowl with rice, vegetables, and often meat, are popular. Meals in Korea are usually shared, showing the importance of community in Korean culture.

Music and Drama

K-pop music is a huge part of Korean culture that has fans all over the world. Korean dramas, or K-dramas, are TV shows that many people love to watch. They tell stories about love, family, and sometimes even history.

Respect and Family

In Korea, respect for others, especially older people, is very important. Family is at the heart of Korean life, and big family gatherings are common for celebrations and holidays.

500 Words Essay on Korean Culture

Korean culture is a rich tapestry woven with history, traditions, and modern influences. It comes from a country called South Korea, located in East Asia. This culture is known for its colorful festivals, delicious food, and famous pop music called K-pop. In this essay, we will explore different parts of Korean culture that make it unique and interesting.

Traditional Clothing: Hanbok

One of the most beautiful parts of Korean culture is its traditional clothing called hanbok. Hanbok has bright colors and simple lines without pockets. The women wear long dresses with short jackets, and men wear baggy pants and a top. People usually wear hanbok on special days like New Year’s Day or family celebrations. When you see hanbok, you can feel the grace and history of Korea.

Music and Dance

K-pop is Korean pop music that is loved all over the world. Bands like BTS and Blackpink have many fans who enjoy their music and dance. Traditional Korean music and dance are also important. They tell stories and express emotions. Instruments like the drum, flute, and stringed gayageum create the sounds of Korea’s past.

Festivals and Holidays

Korea has many festivals that celebrate the seasons, history, and traditions. One of the biggest holidays is Chuseok, which is like Thanksgiving. Families come together, eat special food, and remember their ancestors. Another holiday is Seollal, the Korean New Year, when people wear hanbok, play traditional games, and wish each other good luck for the new year.

Respecting older people is a big part of Korean culture. Young people bow to their elders as a sign of respect. In Korea, people also use polite words and actions when they talk to someone older or in a higher position. This shows the value Koreans place on respect and good manners.

Korean culture is a mix of old and new, where ancient traditions meet the modern world. From the beautiful hanbok and tasty food to the exciting music and important family holidays, there is so much to learn and enjoy. By understanding different parts of Korean culture, we can see the beauty in how people live and celebrate life in South Korea.

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Korean Cuisine

It is difficult to find more specific cuisine than Korean, which is incompatible with foreign culinary traditions. The most important feature of Korean cuisine is a fantastic sharpness of the dishes. Koreans love to spicy food is quite explainable. The main Korean dish is steamed rice which is very nutritious but insipid. As a result the inventive Koreans created a “dietary supplements” in the basis of which lied the red pepper. Moreover the climatic conditions were not conducive for the long storage. That’s why it was a necessity to “preserve” food of using a grea amount of spices. Now the food with no pepper seems to Koreans inedible. Koreans used to eat very spicy dishes since childhood. Even the sharpest of their dishes they give their children at the age of three. However, while they do not reach the age of five or six years, the mother usually rinsed pieces of food in the water.

Korean cuisine is also known in the world not only because of using the dog’s meat and fern leaves but for its delicious marinates and sharp carrots. Korean has much in common with the Japanese and Chinese cuisine because to frequent cultural and historical exchanges. Koreans as Chinese or Japanese also used pork, eggs, rice, soy, vegetables and fish. But Korea has developed its own unique cuisines. They use a lot of spice for cooking. Soup has an important role in the Koreans diet, any meal can’t be without it. “bulgogi” – the sliced beef fried in brazier is favorite Koreans food. The basis of Koreans food like in many other easten and southeasten Asian peoples form the meal of vegetable origin especially rice. On the basis of rice they cook steamed porridge “bibimbap” which prepared on every Korean dinner.

Another key elements of traditional Korean cuisine are fish and seafood. The rich flora and fauna of Korean peninsula rivers give people equally rich food.

Korean foods are very special, exotic, and particular. Once tried traditional Korean dishes one can discover the new unique flavor of Korea. Korean cuisine is sure to impress even the most avid gourmands!

Mind that anyone can use our samples, which may result in plagiarism. Want to maintain academic integrity? Order a tailored paper from our experts.

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How Seoul’s fine dining chefs are merging the past and the present to create a legacy in Korean cuisine


Restaurants like 7th Door, Evett, Onjium, Soigne and Yun Seoul are inspiring a newfound appreciation of Korean cuisine not only among overseas diners but locals too.

The biggest misunderstanding among diners is that, in comparison with Europe or Japan, South Korea lacks diversity in its ingredients and hence, there is not much to cook with. (Photos: Soigne & Evett)

This audio is generated by an AI tool.

korean cuisine essay

Remember the days where the mention of Korean food conjured images of sour-spicy kimchi, instant ramyeons and vegetables tossed higgledy-piggledy with rice in claypots to be called bibimbaps? Not anymore.

You know a cuisine has achieved cult status when for two years in a row, the best restaurant in North America — according to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 and 2024 lists — is a Korean fine diner Atomix, run by Junghyun Park and his wife Ellia. Seoul’s Mingles also made it to the list this year, a first for a South Korean restaurant.

Chef Sung Anh of Mosu, which had first opened in San Francisco before relocating to Seoul and expanding to Hong Kong, also received the peer-voted Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award in this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants accolades for his role in Korea’s gastronomic renaissance.

Even locals, who have often regarded their cuisine as more functional than aesthetic, are seeing their own food in a different light as chefs in Seoul peel back Korea’s multi-layered history to cultivate a deeper appreciation of their food traditions and practices.

korean cuisine essay

Jun Lee is one of the stalwarts on Seoul’s fine dining scene. He opened two-Michelin starred Soigne in 2013, a novelty in its time as Lee applied his mostly American culinary training and experience to Korean ingredients. He reflected: “Eleven years is a very short time for Korea to witness a phenomenon that has created the modern Korean fine dining we see today and is now showing the world a new future.

“For locals, it feels like we've all witnessed the process of how Korean cuisine has gone from being just an expensive luxury to becoming an important part of global culture, like music and movies. It's like having a global language that never existed before.”

Even he had a eureka moment as he straddled tradition and innovation in his culinary journey. “I used to think that they were opposites,” he remarked. “Korean cuisine used to be described in terms of fermentation, represented by kimchi, doenjang (fermented soybean paste) and gochujang (fermented red chili paste).

“However, through studying old cookbooks and looking at food through the lens of the humanities, I concluded that traditional and modern food are not separate, but part of the same stream. It's how you look at food from different time periods. Once I had that perspective, I realised how silly it was to try to explain the whole thing with a single ingredient or feature.”

His “Bibim” dish, for example, has a savoury yet refreshing base of soymilk cream, caviar and fragrant Agastache oil accentuated in texture and flavour by a garland of seasonal herbs and barley sauce. A spritz of tomato essence over the botanical bowl completes what Lee calls the defining factor of Korean cuisine: Harmony.

He explained: “As a people who value harmony in all aspects of our diet, meat dishes were always accompanied by vegetables and side dishes called banchan. When you eat bibimbap, you add various ingredients according to your taste to create new combinations and mix them together to make one dish. It's not about the flavour of any ingredient, but rather the flavour of all the ingredients together.”

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Seventh Door (@7thdoor_official)

At 7th Door, which is ranked No.18 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list and has one Michelin star, chef-owner Kim Dae Chun uses the cornerstones of Korean cuisine, ageing and fermentation, to enhance his dishes.

He shared: “ Every year, we create 40 different fermented ingredients and sauces. We develop data to match the changing ingredients and temperatures each year. We are trying to put in a more systematic and scientific method of the fermentation process. Since tradition can fade with time, we create data to preserve our traditional aspects.”

The team makes their jangs (fermented sauces) from scratch, including the western-style ones such as tteokbokki that combines gochujang with truffles. Seasonal seafood, fruits and vegetables go into aeokjot (fish sauces), cheong (syrups) and jangajji (pickles).

Kim added: “ These house-made condiments become the basis of all our dishes, whether it is Hanwoo (Korean beef) served with a sauce made from aeokjot or noodles using our dongchimi (a winter kimchi made with radish in brine water).”

Kim feels that the biggest misunderstanding among diners is that, in comparison with Europe or Japan, Korea lacks diversity in its ingredients and hence, there is not much to cook with. He countered: “ Korea has four distinct seasons which is reflected in our cuisine, which is extremely diverse due to regional characteristics. Many dishes are unique to specific geographical locations as the Korean peninsula covers the sea and the mountains .

“While popular dishes like bibimbap and kimchi are well-known internationally, they are just a small part of Korean cuisine. There are so many different dishes starting from royal palace cuisine to very common everyday snack foods. ”

korean cuisine essay

Chefs Cho Eun Hee and Park Sung-bae, who opened Onjium as a restaurant and a Korean culture research institute in 2013, remarked that Korean cuisine is not easy to understand. The restaurant has a Michelin star since 2020 and has risen from No. 30 (2022) to No. 21 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

They said: “ There is a prejudice that Korean food is not delicate and has strong flavours. However, our traditional royal court and noble family cuisine have traditionally been mild, deep and pure in taste. We serve such food, offering an experience of traditional Korean cuisine that may even be unfamiliar to Koreans. Over time, its value seems to be increasingly recognised by local diners.”

Cho, who was trained in the royal cuisine of the Joseon dynasty , uses an old recipe for the restaurant’s Tomato Eungi, where milk is added to tofu made from soybeans to create a cheese-like flavour, achieving a “modern” taste with traditional methods.

korean cuisine essay

Their Duteop Pie is a riff on the traditional Korean sweet duteop tteok that was served on the Korean king’s birthday but is made with pie dough instead of rice cake dough. Cho explained: “ While traditional methods used primitive cooking tools, Onjium modernises these traditions by using the latest cooking equipment to ensure that these traditions can be preserved and continued.”

She and Park plan to continue with their fermentation studies, especially with vegetables and alcohol, and to organise collaborations that foster the growth and understanding of Korean culture.

korean cuisine essay

Studying the past to understand and enhance the present is also the philosophy behind one Michelin-starred Yun Seoul’s chef-founders Kim Do-yun and Song Hongyoon. Their signature buckwheat noodles with perilla seed oil have a purity and simplicity that harken to a time before the Korean War where there was no wheat, and noodles were made from buckwheat, soybeans and starch. The comfort dish had a natural aroma and no additives.

Song explained: “ We want to bring out more aroma and flavour from ingredients through aging, fermentation, and drying and create a different texture — that is what comfort food should be like.”

The duo is starting a research institute to study local ingredients and the processes of drying, maturation, and fermentation. Song shared: “In Korea, there are many ingredients with unique regional characteristics that even Koreans are not familiar with. Also, Korean ingredients these days are being cultivated cheaply and quickly, losing their original aroma and taste. We hope to work with farmers to find out how to grow them in a better way.”

korean cuisine essay

The community connection is also what drives Joseph Lidgerwood, an Australian chef who fell in love with the Korean culture and moved to Seoul eight years ago, to spend a good part of each year visiting producers to learn about their crops and finding ways to highlight their versatility.

He opened his restaurant Evett in 2019 to push the creative boundaries of Korean ingredients and it has retained its one Michelin-star status since 2020.  He said: “ Deconstructing dishes or making samgyetang different is not really the point of what we do. What we want to do is showcase an ingredient in a different way beyond how it’s been used for hundreds of years.” One of the dishes in his tasting menu is a strawberry gochujang combined with fruit leather to create a cross between an Australian fruit roll and jjondeugie, both popular childhood snacks. The translucent roll is then wrapped around a shrimp for a play-off between sweetness and acidity.

korean cuisine essay

The possibilities are endless, the future looks exciting. Soigne’s Lee shared: “This new culinary revolution is creating hope and excitement about how Korean cuisine can be reinterpreted, and how the concept of Korean cuisine, which we didn't even know clearly, can be even greater than we thought.”

My hope though, is that as Korean cuisine hurtles towards fame and glamour, its uniqueness will be preserved. Its beauty lies in its deep connection with nature’s life cycles, living — often patiently — in the moment and making the best of it.

For example, much like winemaking, no one knows how a jang or kimchi would taste at the end. Textures and flavours change at the different fermentation stages and there are no right or wrong decisions in determining when it is at its most ideal for consumption. More importantly, the creation process was often a communal activity that brought people together in conversations and memories.

This was the recurring theme in several hansik (Korean traditional foods) sessions organised by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Korean Food Promotion Institute in conjunction with the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony, which was held in Seoul.

korean cuisine essay

As she hand-mashed cooked soybeans and folded whole cabbages with their fermentation marinades in her demonstration of jang and kimchi making, chef Cho Heesook, who was named Best Female Chef in 2020, shared that these quintessential staples were traditionally homemade. These days, with smaller homes and busier lifestyles, they are often store bought. Still, every household had their preferred preparation methods and favourite ingredients, resulting in unique variations that tell of family bonds and rituals.

For kimchi, the main ingredient has traditionally been cabbage, but latter-day versions include tomatoes and beet root. There are also unfermented versions known as geotjeori. Purists may be aghast at their inclusion, but Cho feels they are acceptable definitions of kimchi. Her rationale? Modern evolutions don’t negate foundations. She commented: “If you think about it, fresh kimchi represents the beginning of the fermentation process.”

korean cuisine essay

To Jeong Kwan, the Buddhist nun who shot humble vegetarian temple food to international fame in the Netflix Chef’s Table documentary, cooking is recognising how ingredients should be treated, and eating is a self-discovery journey — "you create yourself from what you eat”. She has no recipes nor measuring cups. Instead, she gauges the “energy” in ingredients to determine their usage: Young vegetable shoots are tossed into salads, while spring vegetables like chwi-namul — whose leaves become larger in May —  are boiled, dried and fermented. Only natural flavourings are used, such as perilla oil, mushroom powder and persimmon vinegar.

In her workshop, Kwan, who had learned cooking solely by observing her temple seniors in the kitchen and experimenting on her own, braised soy sauce-glazed shiitake mushrooms in rice syrup and pan-fried doenjang mujeon (soybean paste and radish pancakes).  We had them along with lotus leaf rice and yakgwa (honey cookies) for lunch, delicious fare that brimmed with natural goodness and the caress of condiments brushed on in perfect proportions. In that moment, temple food feels like the philosophical roots that ground Korean cuisine to its raison d’etre: To use nature’s bounty to heal, connect and revive. That’s what I hope a cuisine will always be, no matter how lauded it may become.

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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

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How the rise in Korean culture is accelerating the growth of the K-food trend in India

Urban indian consumers are increasingly drawn to korean cuisine, thanks to globalisation and the popularity of social media platforms where influencers showcase and share their k-food experiences, leading to a surge in interest and experimentation..


Wednesday June 26, 2024 , 5 min Read

In recent years, there has been a remarkable surge in the popularity of Korean culture worldwide, and India is no exception. From K-pop music to K-dramas and now, most notably, Korean cuisine, the phenomenon commonly known as the " Korean Wave " or " Hallyu " has made its mark across India. Interestingly, the viewership of K-dramas on Netflix reported a YoY 370% jump in 2020 meanwhile the surge of Korean noodles in India also witnessed a volume growth of 162% in 2020. In a study , 88% of the respondents were willing to try Korean food; representing a significant acceleration in the growth of the K-food trend in India.

Another driving force behind the increasing popularity of Korean food in India is the growing interest in international cuisines among urban Indian consumers. With globalisation and increased exposure to diverse cultures, there has been a shift in food preferences toward exploring new and exotic flavors. Korean cuisine, with its emphasis on fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and unique cooking techniques, has found a receptive audience among Indian food enthusiasts.

Furthermore, the rise of social media platforms has played a pivotal role in disseminating information and creating awareness about Korean food. Food bloggers, influencers, and YouTubers have been instrumental in showcasing Korean dishes, sharing recipes, and documenting their culinary experiences, thereby sparking curiosity and inspiring others to explore K-food.

Amalgamation of Indian palate and Korean cuisine

The high rise of Korean culture, fueled by global popularity is significantly accelerating the growth of the K-food trend in India. As Indian consumers become increasingly familiar with Korean entertainment and lifestyle, they are also developing a curiosity for Korean cuisine. The unique flavors and ingredients in Korean food resonate well with the Indian palate, which has a deep appreciation for bold spices and diverse culinary experiences. This cultural exchange is evident in the growing number of Korean restaurants and food stalls across major Indian cities, offering traditional Korean dishes like bibimbap, kimchi, and Korean BBQ alongside Indian favorites.

Moreover, the amalgamation of the Indian palate and Korean cuisine is creating exciting fusion dishes that appeal to both communities. Chefs and food enthusiasts are experimenting with blending Korean cooking techniques and flavors with Indian ingredients and spices, resulting in innovative culinary creations that cater to the diverse tastes of both cultures. From kimchi dosas to bulgogi tacos, these fusion dishes not only celebrate the rich culinary heritage of both India and Korea but also reflect the evolving food landscape. 

Lastly, the accessibility of Korean ingredients and cooking tools has also facilitated the adoption of Korean cooking techniques in Indian kitchens. With the proliferation of online marketplaces and specialty stores offering a wide range of Korean groceries, including kimchi, gochujang (red chili paste), doenjang (soybean paste), and gimbap (seaweed rice rolls), enthusiasts can now recreate authentic Korean dishes in the comfort of their homes.

Meeting the growing taste preferences of Korean food

Meeting the growing taste preferences of Korean food presents an exciting opportunity for culinary innovators and food entrepreneurs alike. With the surge in popularity of Korean culture worldwide, including in countries like the United States, Europe, and beyond, there's a rising demand for authentic Korean flavors and dishes. Restaurants specialising in Korean cuisine are diversifying their menus to cater to a wider range of tastes, offering traditional favorites alongside modern interpretations and fusion dishes. Additionally, food manufacturers are now launching an array of Korean-inspired products, such as sauces, marinades, and ready-to-eat meals, to make Korean cooking more accessible to home cooks and consumers seeking convenient options without compromising on flavor authenticity.

Furthermore, the adaptation of Korean food to meet different dietary preferences and requirements is becoming increasingly prevalent. With the growing awareness of health and wellness, many consumers are seeking healthier alternatives and plant-based options. Consequently, chefs and food producers are incorporating more vegetarian and vegan options into Korean cuisine, utilising ingredients like tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables to create delicious meat-free versions of classic dishes like bibimbap and kimchi jjigae. This expansion of Korean food offerings not only caters to diverse dietary needs but also contributes to the continued globalisation and appreciation of Korean culinary traditions on a global scale.

Restaurants and eateries across India have started capitalising on the growing demand for Korean cuisine by incorporating K-food items into their menus. From Korean BBQ joints serving grilled meats to trendy cafes offering bingsu (shaved ice dessert) and street food stalls dishing out crispy Korean fried chicken, there is no shortage of options for those craving a taste of Korea.

Witnessing the firsthand transformative impact of the K-food trend in the Indian F&B industry, the immense potential of this growing market has been recognised. The industry has embraced Korean influences in menu offerings, introducing innovative fusion dishes that appeal to the discerning Indian palate while paying homage to the rich culinary heritage of Korea.

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December 7, 2017 COPY LINK FACEBOOK X LINKEDIN MASTODON PRINT on 2013-04-17 19:52:57

The first is called “Pyongyang-Koryo” and the second is called  , after an island in the center of Pyongyang. “Runrado” is close to the central complex of the Moscow State University, in southwestern Moscow, while Pyongyang-Koryo is located in the underground floor of a building near Gagarin square, much closer to the center of Moscow. Despite everything that is happening in North Korea, the restaurants have survived without any noticeable change for the last decade or so.

The first is called “Pyongyang-Koryo” and the second is called  , after an island in the center of Pyongyang. “Runrado” is close to the central complex of the Moscow State University, in southwestern Moscow, while Pyongyang-Koryo is located in the underground floor of a building near Gagarin square, much closer to the center of Moscow. Despite everything that is happening in North Korea, the restaurants have survived without any noticeable change for the last decade or so.

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About the Author

Fyodor Tertitskiy

Fyodor Tertitskiy

Fyodor Tertitskiy is a leading researcher at Seoul’s Kookmin University. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Seoul National University and is the author of several books on North Korean history and military in English and Korean.

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I stayed at a North Korean summer camp. We polished statues and played a game where we destroyed the White House.

  • Some Russian kids will attend North Korea's Songdowon International Children's Camp this summer.
  • The camp features activities such as cleaning leaders' statues and singing Korean songs.
  • Yuri Frolov, a Russian who twice stayed at the camp, told Business Insider about his experiences.

Insider Today

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Yuri Frolov, 25, who in 2015 and 2016 attended North Korea's Songdowon International Children's Camp, which some Russian children will attend this summer. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

When I was a kid, I remember watching a TV documentary about North Korea . Although I was very young, my perception of the country was that it was under siege by its capitalist neighbors.

I knew little; I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

I tried to find more information, so I subscribed to a group called "Solidarity with North Korea" on VKontakte — Russia's equivalent to Facebook.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation offered members of the group a chance to go to a North Korean children's summer camp for about $300.

That included food, accommodation, all the facilities, plane tickets, and everything else — really cheap for a 15-day trip.

I saw it as an opportunity to see North Korea for myself, so I asked my parents, who agreed to send me to Songdowon.

I traveled alone from St. Petersburg , where I grew up, to Vladivostok, in the far east of Russia, where I joined a group of other children and some Communist Party officials. At 15, I was one of the oldest; the others were 9, 10, and 11.

I was probably the only one traveling to North Korea to see this dystopia . The others seemed to see it as a chance to go to the beach or play in the playground inexpensively.

First, we spent two days in Pyongyang , where we were constantly supervised.

We visited many places, including Kim Il Sung Square and the war museum where they displayed captured American vehicles and the USS Pueblo , the American ship that was seized by the North Koreans in the 1960s.

They kept pushing us into supermarkets so we'd spend money.

What was funny was that it was really easy to buy vodka and cigarettes.

Kids in our group, some as young as 12, bought North Korean rice vodka, brought it back to the camp, and got extremely drunk on the first couple of nights.

Upon arriving at Songdowon, the staff was very welcoming, cheering us on while they stood in a long line.

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About five buses of children arrived. Though most of us were Russian, there were also groups of children from Laos, Nigeria, Tanzania, and China.

However, the North Korean children in the camp were quite segregated from us, and we only met them once on our last day.

I think that was deliberate, preventing them from talking with us about their experiences.

The summer camp had many activities, such as beach outings, sandcastle-building competitions, and swimming. But it also had some really weird rituals.

We had to clean statues of North Korea's former leaders. One morning, we woke up at 6 a.m. to clean the monuments of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

We didn't have sponges or anything — we were just brushing off the dust, even though the monuments were cleaned professionally every week. It was strange.

We also had to participate in concerts, singing propaganda songs in Korean about North Korea's Supreme Leaders, using lyric sheets translated into Russian.

They tried to brainwash us in many ways. We played a computer game where your character, a hamster in a tank, had to destroy the White House.

One kid became so indoctrinated afterward that he joined the Communist Party in Russia and was always posting about North Korea.

For me, it didn't work — the propaganda was too straightforward.

Also, I was too frustrated with the strict schedule to be brainwashed. For example, when I was sick, they wouldn't let me skip early-morning exercise.

The food was also really bad. The only things I could eat were rice, wedges, and bread.

I lost about 11 pounds in 15 days, even though I was already skinny.

After leaving, I craved capitalist food so badly that I bought three Burger King burgers, two large fries, and a cola. It was impossible to eat all that, but I just wanted it so bad.

Despite the boring, miserable, and overly controlled experience, I returned the next year. I don't like confrontation, and the Communist Party officials had already signed me up, so I went again.

It was a stupid decision to return, and I don't know why my parents let me go, but I'd totally do it again.

I can easily make friends just by talking about my experiences — people just want to hear about North Korea.

Watch: Russian children head to a North Korean summer camp as the countries strengthen ties

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 5. Reuters-Yonhap

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to discuss peace in Ukraine, drawing warnings from fellow European Union leaders against appeasement and an insistence that he did not speak for the EU.

Hungary assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the bloc on Monday. Five days in and Orban has visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv and formed the "Patriots for Europe" alliance with other right-wing nationalists.

Now, he has chosen to go to Moscow on a "peace mission," days before a NATO summit that will address further military aid for Ukraine against what the Western defence alliance has called Russia's "unprovoked war of aggression."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that only unity and determination within the 27-nation EU would pave the way to a just and lasting peace in Ukraine."

"Appeasement will not stop Putin," she said on X.

Putin, who received Orban in the Kremlin, told him that he was ready to discuss the "nuances" of peace proposals to end the two-and-a-half-year-old war.

Putin said last month that Russia would end the war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a special military operation, only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow — demands Kyiv swiftly rejected as tantamount to surrender.

An EU diplomat said that, in Orban's decision to meet Putin in Moscow, Hungary's presidency of the EU — which will run until Dec. 31 — had effectively ended before it had really begun.

"The scepticism of EU member states was unfortunately justified — it's all about promoting Budapest's interests," the diplomat said, asking for anonymity due to political sensitivities.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda accused Orban of undermining the EU presidency. "If you truly seek peace, you don't shake hands with a bloody dictator, you put all your efforts to support Ukraine," he wrote on X.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Orban in Moscow was "not representing the EU in any form" and Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said the visit undermined EU interests.

Pavel Havlicek, research fellow at the Association for International Affairs, said Orban's visit was an abuse of a power vacuum in Brussels and a dangerous undermining of the common European position.

Orban, a critic of Western military aid to Ukraine who has the warmest relations of any EU leader with Putin, said he recognized he had no EU mandate for the trip, but that peace could not be made "from a comfortable armchair in Brussels."

"We cannot sit back and wait for the war to miraculously end," he wrote on X.

The EU presidency's role is to chair meetings of member states, seek consensus and broker agreements on legislation with the European Parliament.

At a time of transition, with a new European Commission only set to take office in November, analysts said Budapest's actions at the forefront of EU policy-making were likely to be restricted.

Ministers said Hungary wanted to make an impact with its presidency, which it launched with a striking call to "Make Europe Great Again," echoing former U.S. President Donald Trump, an Orban ally.

"We intend to leave a mark," Orban's spokesman Zoltán Kovacs said on Thursday, before reports of the Moscow trip emerged. "The prime minister is going to use the presidency in a political way." (Reuters)



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Alert Level Raised at U.S. Bases in Europe Over Russian Threats

Officials said there was no specific intelligence about possible Russian attacks on American bases, but Moscow has made vague threats over Ukraine’s use of long-range weapons on its territory.

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U.S. soldiers in camouflage, with military vehicles behind them.

By Julian E. Barnes and John Ismay

Reporting from Washington

American defense officials raised the security alert level at military bases in Europe over the weekend in response to vague threats from the Kremlin over Ukraine’s use of long-range weapons on Russian territory, according to U.S. and Western officials.

Officials said that no specific intelligence about possible Russian attacks on American bases had been collected. Any such attack by Russia, whether overt or covert, would be a significant escalation of its war in Ukraine.

Russia has been stepping up acts of sabotage in Europe, hoping to disrupt the flow of matériel to Ukraine. So far, no American bases have been targeted in those attacks, but U.S. officials said raising the alert level would help ensure that service members were keeping watch.

Throughout the war, U.S. officials have assessed that President Vladimir V. Putin is loath to expand the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

But stepped-up U.S. and European aid — and the easing of restrictions on how that matériel is used — has caused consternation in Moscow, according to American officials. Russia’s recent statements have made some American and European officials wary.

Ukraine has been using longer-range American missiles known as ATACMS to strike deep into occupied Crimea. The United States has also said Ukraine can use them in cross-border attacks on Russian military targets.

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