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216 × 138 mm
240 pages
70 illustrations
31 Oct 2012

Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War Food in Twentieth-Century Korea Katarzyna J. Cwiertka

One peninsula, two uniquely contrasting sovereign states; Korea’s role in modern world history has been disproportionately large relative to the size of its territory and population. In the twentieth century it experienced colonial rule and military occupations, played a significant role in the Cold War and underwent the split into North and South that continues to define it today. Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War explores the impact these political shifts had on the country’s food culture – indeed, they are shown to have been definitive in the development of what we today consider to be ‘Korean’ cuisine.

In this book, Katarzyna J. Cwiertka not only examines the socio-political circumstances that led certain ingredients, flavours and dishes to become prominent in present-day Korea but, conversely, explores the question of what these foods can tell us about Korean history itself. Seemingly trivial aspects of Korean life such as the industrial manufacture of soy sauce and the daily consumption of rice are shown to reflect the country’s historical status as a Japanese colony and its control by both U.S. and Soviet forces. The author covers a fascinating array of Korean culinary culture, from wartime food shortages and rationing through the revival of traditional royal court cuisine to the rise and success of the Korean barbecue restaurant in the West, and from the North Korean famine of the 1990s to the opening of the very first fast-food outlet there.

Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War will be of interest to food historians as well as to general readers interested in Korean food, culture and society.

‘Katarzyna Cwiertka of the University of Leiden has hitherto largely concentrated her research on food in Japan. In this book, she has broadened her coverage to the Korean Peninsula. The result is a very readable and often entertaining account of the ups and downs of food styles, availability and preparation on the peninsula since the beginning of Japanese colonial rule in 1910.’ – Asian Affairs

‘this volume greatly adds to the available English-language scholarship on Korean food and also helps demonstrate the interconnectedness of history, culture, and food . . . a comprehensive study of twentieth-century Korean cuisine and how events such as the colonization by Japan, the Korean War, and division have played major roles in shaping the food we find today in Korea . . . an excellent volume’ – Journal of Asian Studies‘Cwiertka has produced a fine study of the lasting legacy of Japanese colonialism on Korean food culture. Beginning with Japan’s domination of Korea in the 1890s, the author illustrates how food cultures in both North and South Korea were shaped in lasting ways by Japanese colonialism and the Cold War . . . Especially strong is the author’s unfolding of the history of seemingly mundane aspects of food, like the impact of Japanese customs and taste on soy sauce manufacturing in Korea to the present, and her richly illustrated narrative on the intersection of restaurant culture, gender roles, and modernity in Korea. Highly recommended’ – Choice

‘the focus of this work on twentieth-century political economy is basic for understanding the present, and underscores the considerable importance of this book.’ – Pacific Affairs

‘This is an excellent book on Korean-Japanese relations, the early history of Korean industrialization, and the rise of industrial food, as well as the evolution of Korean food in recent times, all rolled into a scant 237 pp.  A good author can do wonders . . .’ – MarginalRevolution.com

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Katarzyna J. Cwiertka is Chair and Professor of Modern Japan Studies at Leiden University. She is the author of Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity (Reaktion, 2006) and the editor of Critical Readings on Food in East Asia (2012) and Food and War in Mid-Twentieth-Century East Asia (2013).