Editor's Introduction

Tradition and Transition in North Korean Food Culture

Song Chi-Man

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.9 No.2 pp.9-13

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Feature Articles

North Korean Perceptions toward Traditional Dietary Customs and Policies for Their Protection*

Youngsun Jeon

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.9 No.2 pp.17-45

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This study is to compare perceptions of the two Koreas’ traditional dietary cultures and the policies enacted to protect these cultures with a view to predicting the potential collisions that could occur during the process of unification and to presenting a direction for integrating the dietary cultures of the two countries. The dietary cultures of the two Koreas have been perceived as conspicuous joint cultural assets formed over 5,000 years. North Korea has made efforts to preserve the traditions of Korean national culture. After the Kim Jongun regime gained power in 2012, the country took efforts to unearth its intangible heritage, whose significant portion was related to dietary culture. North Korea has designated four elements of dietary culture as national intangible cultural heritage: (1) daily food available nationwide; (2) seasonal food related to holidays; (3) traditional alcohol; and (4) local food. North Korea has held various cooking competitions and has made efforts to unearth elements of traditional Korean dietary culture with a view to promote this culture. There are very similar aspects to how the two Koreas make value judgments and promote industrialization policies regarding cultural heritage that is related to traditional dietary culture. There are policy-related similarities in regards to the positive evaluations that the two Koreas make toward dietary culture, along with the proactive efforts to unearth, along with national efforts to preserve, that culture. That being said, there are differences in the specific elements of culture that the two Koreas aim to inherit and preserve. There are differences in the systems of the two Koreas in terms of the objectives and orientation of unearthing traditional culture and the criteria used to evaluate its value. These differences suggest there will be clashes between the two Koreas in living culture (saenghwal munhwa). During exchanges between the two Koreas, there is an imperative to establish human and material infrastructures to allow the active exchange of information, joint investigations, academic exchanges, and communication in regards to living culture, including dietary culture.

Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Pyongyang Raengmyon Custom

Kim Jongsuk

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.9 No.2 pp.47-68

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The Pyongyang Raengmyon (MR: P’yŏngyang Raengmyŏn) custom was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Through this, we saw how North Korea carries out activities to protect its intangible heritage, and in particular how it carries out efforts to inscribe its intangible heritage on the UNESCO list, including its culinary culture and folk and ethnic foods. The issue of preserving the culinary culture of North Korea, a nation that now aspires to be a socialist civilization, can be called an activity to discover, create, and critically and developmentally alter a food culture that was severed by the Japanese colonial era and the Korean War, and a process of recovering the North Korean and reasserting national pride and self-respect. Activities to protect cultural heritage in socialist North Korea are conducted in keeping with the spirit and essence of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and this can be seen as the final result of the interlocking of the passion for life blossoming amid the people and state policy in a county that aspires to be a social civilization. This study attempts to discover the background to Pyongyang Raengmyon custom’s inscription on UNESCO’s Intangible World Heritage List by explaining the history of the custom and how expressions such as sŏnju humyŏn (“first liquor, then noodles”) and iraeng ch’iraeng (“fighting cold with cold”) became deeply reflected in the North Korean dietary customs, the methods of making the noodle dough from buckwheat, which flourishes in the northern part of Korea centered on Pyongyang, as well as the radish water kimchi broth, the garnish and the noodles, and how Pyongyang Raengmyon itself—served in unusual bowls— became world famous for the peculiar way it is eaten.

Book Review

Ryang Yong-Song. Hyŏmo p’yohyŏn-ŭn wae chaeil chosŏnin-ŭl kyŏnyang-hanŭn’ga [Why Is Hate Speech Aimed at Zainichi Koreans?]. Translated by Kim Sŏnmi. Seoul: Sanbooks, 2018. 336 Pages. ISBN13: 9788990062864. ISBN10: 8990062861.

Han Sangwon

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.9 No.2 pp.71-81

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An Interview with Fujii Takeshi

Interviewer: Park Min-Cheol

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.9 No.2 pp.85-104

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