Korean Cuisine

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Korean culture is comprised of a multitude of societal changes that have amounted and transformed throughout the years. Beginning five thousand years ago Korea has slowly evolved into a cultural haven. Music, dance, painting, food, fashion, arts, games, karate, family life, theater, religion and beliefs are just a few components that make up modern day Korean culture. Korean cuisine is one of the most unifying of all of these cultural factors. The food in Korea is one of the defining elements of Koreans culture because of its historical background, environmental affinities, long lasting creative techniques and recipes, and use in traditional ceremonies and festivals. Modern day cuisine in Korea is quite progressed from what it once started as, but many of the same traditional dishes still play a major role in Korean diets. As Korea has evolved and gone through intense alterations, so has the food in this country. Major political changes have affected the eating palates of Koreans by changing both the amount of food available and the type of food that is consumed, yet traditional Korean cuisine has managed to survive into the modern day. The origin of Korean cuisine can be traced back to early myths and legends that have been passed down, generation to generation, throughout the years. Looking at the historical nature of Korea can also be helpful in showing the foundation of Korean food. The Three Kingdoms Period in Korea lasted from 57 BCE to 668 CE. The first kingdom was Goguryeo, which is located in the northern part of the Korean peninsula, known today as Manchuria. The second kingdom, Baekje, was located in the southwestern part of the peninsula and the third kingdom, Silla, was located in the southeast corner of the peninsula. Each of the three kingdoms had unique cuisines that were specific to the area they were in because of the varying climates of each region. During the Three Kingdoms Period, fermented food began to be seen and played a huge role in Korean’s everyday lives. During this period there are no actual records of the food that was prepared or cooked and therefore no writings of seasonings or ingredients that were used to prepare their meals. The only record of any Korean food during this period was the mention of Kimchi, the national Korean traditional dish. Following the Three Kingdoms Period was the Unified Silla period, which began in 668CE and continued until 935CE. Silla unified most of the southern region of Korea, while migrants from Goguryeo unified the north, eventually renaming the area Balhae. Korea was ultimately nified under the Goryeo dynasty. During this time of unification is when the spread of the Korea peninsula to the Western World began. In the 13th century, after the Goryeo Dynasty was out of power, the Joseon Period commenced. Around 1429, under King Sejong, the publication of books on agriculture and farming techniques began. Because of these early informative novels, the second half of the Joseon period proved to be quite different from the first half.

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