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This article is the written script of an episode from our podcast series: Kandelaa – Conversations.

( Bu yazı,  podcast serimiz Kandelaa – Conversations’tan alınan bir bölümün yazılı metnidir. )

The Far East definitely has a strong grasp of blending the variety into melodious notes. From history to culture, the geography should be researched and even studied, if have plans for the future. Soon, we will introduce the Korean cuisine of this group – another beautiful one. Since we did our brief intro, let’s dive into our episode. 


The Main Dietary Foods

The Korean peninsula is affected by four different seasons annually; winters are dry and cold whereas summers are humid and quite hot. Still, that doesn’t implicate that the conditions are inconvenient in the region; vice versa, the seasonal diversity results in the growth of various agricultural products.


The Mumun Pottery: Rice is one of the most consumed agriproducts all across the Far East Geography; Korea is naturally included in this group. Agriculture started in the geography with the Mumun pottery period, after the hunter-gatherer activities, which significantly enlarged the spectrum of agriproducts: Legumes, rice, barley, and millet began to be cultivated while the hunting activities went on as well. 

Three Kingdoms: After the prehistoric period, Korea was divided (not into smaller countries) into three kingdoms ( Goguryeo, Baekje, and Manchuria) so that it is possible, as a result, to mention the three subregions for analysis. The kingdoms were known for their slightly (?) differentiated diets and food preferences. Kimchi, a popular cabbage pickle in the Far East, was particularly common in Baekje. People enjoyed rice, beans, and millet in Goguryeo. 

The Chinese influence on Korean food traditions began growing. 

Goryeo: The Mongol invasion spread through Korea in the 13th century, introducing new elements and recipes to the Korean culture. Mandu, basically a meat dumpling dish, was an interesting one because it resembles the Turkish word mantı both philologically and physically. The dish is shared by different peoples in Asia; Chinese, Turkic, and Mongolic people were naturally of those. In addition to this, the introduction of the black pepper probably traces back to the Mongol domination of the different trade routes. Afterward, Mongols probably carried the spice to the conquered regions such as Korea.  

Joseon Period: The palace started inducing farmers by publishing books on agriculture and applied techniques. Aside from the mine resources, people were getting to know new species during the ultramarine discoveries in the 15th century. The novelty reached Korea after a while; goods like sweet potato, peanut, tomatoes, and pumpkin began taking their place in the Korean cuisine culture. 

Colonial Period: Japanese invasion spread throughout vast geography, encompassing Korea as well. Many American industrial foods were introduced to the Korean culture during WWII. Rice production was also precipitated to help compensate for the war efforts of the Japanese Army. Diet types showed differences across the social classes. Rice wasn’t accessible to consume frequently for the lower-class citizens, barley was relatively affordable, while people at higher statues could eat more than one meal a day. 


We should definitely mention the eating etiquette of Korean people. You can even see similarities to Turkish culture since both cultures stemmed from an Asian heritage. First of all, the elderly are respected: They start the meal for the whole family. Chopsticks and spoons should be used carefully – not at the same time! Sharing food with the other family members is quite important; it’s always better all together, after all. And, for sure, you should honor the person who cooked the meal by saying: “I will eat well” in Korean. It’s a kind of a promise that you will enjoy your meal.


The Korean culture, like some other Far East cultures, is known for consuming vegetables raw and fresh. However, steaming, cooking, and especially pickling are also as important as their direct consumption. Lotus roots, potatoes, radishes, Napa cabbage, etc. are among the most commonly used vegetables in Korea. 

The prehistoric people’s encounter with the nomadic tribes paved the way for animal domestication. Yet, although their meat is consumed, dairy products don’t take part in the traditional diet. Beef, pork, chicken, and fish have a considerable place in Korean cuisine. 

Korean soups contain various elements that are not purely in a liquid form; they can even look like a juicy stew. They are not necessarily served as a starter; these soups are an important accompaniment to the main course. Tteokguk, Naengguk, Doenjang-guk are one of these soups.


The non-alcoholic beverages are prepared with ginger, plum extract, quince, sweet rice, and malt. These drinks may even relieve stress or appease soreness, namely, be pleasant treatments for someone. This beverage category includes mogwacha, sikhye, sujeonggwa, and many others. Additionally, Koreans have tens of alcoholic drinks, the most popular one being liquor called soju. 

Rice is a significant ingredient in Korean desserts that one can come across it in various forms. Koreans prepare rice dumplings filled with red bean paste and fry them afterward. Yaksik is what you can enjoy sweet rice accompanied by chestnut, dried jujube, and pine nuts. Talking about the Far East and forgetting the rice cakes? Not possible! Called songyeon, rice cakes are prepared with sesame seeds, rice – matcha powder, dried mung beans, and kabocha squash; they get their colorful forms from these ingredients. Of course, not all the dessert is from rice; yagkwa dessert comprises the soju, pastry flour, sesame oil, honey, nut, and ginger harmonically. Its crimson color bestows yagkwa a unique delicacy without a doubt!

There are still a lot of desserts to discover in Korean cuisine. Be sure to check more. 

Pickling is an important practice in Korean cuisine, leading people to consume dried vegetables and kimchi. Kimchi is a cabbage and radish pickle fermented after being covered with a special spicy paste. The seasoning is a crucial part because a wide variety of different notes are used for kimchi: garlic, onion, ginger, etc. It is served as a side dish next to almost all the meals, but you can see stews or soups containing kimchi as well. 

Pay attention to the colorfulness of the Far East cuisines, or at least, the harmony of various tastes. Bibimbap, a dish prepared with different vegetables, meat, rice, and raw egg in the center, certainly has this characteristic. Koreans have a dish that you may confuse with sushi from Japanese cuisine: Gimbap. It’s a composition of vegetables, fish, and crab meat with seaweed wrapped around it. As you can make reasoning, bap means rice in the Korean language. Gimbap is firstly rolled to be cut into bite-size pieces. The diameter of a gimbap slice is usually wider than that of sushi. Other than them, we can mention Japchae, Gopchang, Sundubu Jjigae, etc. 

Asia has gems to discover. Despite the similarities, all the people have their own unique cultures and stories. Today, we told about the Korean cuisine culture, but time is never enough to finish covering all its treasures. Maybe because you’re interested, you have a special admiration, or just because to expand your general knowledge, don’t postpone researching to later! Exploring more brings bliss.