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.
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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.
Because of this, government began to play a major role in coming up with new agricultural systems and techniques to help improve farming as well as other aspects of life. The first step that the government took in trying to help the peasantry was reduced taxation, which in turn prompted the opportunity to come up with complex irrigation systems leading to eventual increased trade with China, Japan, Europe, and the Philippines. New crops began to show up in Korea because of the government’s aid to commoner’s agricultural needs. Some of these crops included corn, sweet potatoes, chili peppers, tomatoes, peanuts, and squash.
One of the most important items introduced to Korea during this time period was Chinese cabbage, also known as brassica. Chinese cabbage was important because it would become the main ingredient in kimchi. As the Joseon period ended, the country was showing signs of massive improvement as well as signs of continuing trade with the Western World, China, Japan, the United States, Britain, and France. The exchange of food boded well for all countries involved. New cultural foods were being shown to Korea that they had never before seen.
The problem was that although crop production, especially rice production, was increasing most of these crops were being shipped out of the country. To make up for this loss, Koreans also began to increase the production of grains such as millet and barley for Korean use only. Under Japanese control, the way meals were eaten and served also changed Korean’s lives. Koreans began to eat only two meals a day during cold season and three a day during warm seasons. The meals became very repetitive with little variation on a day-to-day basis.