“Constructing National Food: North and South Korean Cookbooks and the Standardization of National Cuisine” by Benjamin Joinau
In the context of national constructs, recipe books define an ideal corpus of national cuisine. The need for standardized recipe books started in Korea during the 20th century, when Korea was facing rapid modernization in the Japanese colonial context. Partition later opened a new dilemma: if Korean culture is one, so should be Korean cuisine – but in the context of the long partition and of the Cold War regime of opposition, the two States tend to require increased differentiation. These competing identities are well expressed in the different recipe books which have been published on both sides on an official or semi-official level. This study will be based on the detailed statistical analysis of the North Korean “Bible” of its own cuisine: Chosŏn ryori chŏnchip (Encyclopedia of Chosŏn Cuisine, 1994-2014, Pyongyang). We will proceed to a categorization of the types of dishes, as well as methods of cooking and main ingredients used in recipes. In order to have a synchronic comparison, recent data from South Korea will be included in the comparative analysis. We will analyze Hanguk ŭmsik kich’o chori (Basic Cooking of South Korean Dishes, Yoon Sook-ja, 2008, Seoul), because the author had her book translated in several languages, insisting on the fact that the recognition of Korean gastronomy on the international stage relies on the standardization of recipes. Through these thorough analysis, we will be able to proceed to an in-depth comparison of the way North and South Korea construct their national cuisine through such recipe books.
Benjamin Joinau holds a doctorate in cultural anthropology specialized in Korean Studies. He is a researcher of the Center of Korean Studies (CRC) at EHESS, Paris, and assistant professor at Hongik University, Seoul. He has been living and working in South Korea since 1994. His Ph.D. thesis analyzed the regimes of otherness in Korean cinema. Beside cinema, he works on different materials like food culture and cityscape in both North and South Koreas. He anchors his methodological frame in Gilbert Durand’s « mythodology » in order to delineate the structures of the Korean modern imaginary. He has published several articles and books in French, English and Korean. He is also the director of the publishing house Atelier des Cahiers (www.atelierdescahiers.com).
From Korea University station (line 6), take exit 1, go to the right, up the sloping walkway to the campus. Walk past the building with the Ilmin Museum (the first building you'll see almost in front of you, a little to the left), and continue walking straight up the hill until you reach the Asiatic Research Institute on the right. We will go somewhere for supper at the end of the colloquium. After 6 pm the front door of the Institute will be locked, so please try to arrive a little earlier. If the door is locked, please either wait for somone to come out or phone to Brother Anthony (010-8979-8301) so that we can let you into the building.