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Food and Nationalism: Kimchi and Korean National Identity
The Korean Journal of International Studies 4-1 (December 2006), 207-229
Published online December 31, 2006
© 2006 The Korean Journal of International Studies.

CHO, Hong Sik

Soongsil University
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
  In order to deepen our understanding of the relationship between food and nationalism in general, and of Korean national identity in particular, this article aims at investigating the case of kimchi, this representative culinary symbol of Korean everyday life. My approach is to analyze historically three different phases of the emerging process of kimchi as national symbol: 1) Declaration of independence in taste, 2) Promotion of the national food, and 3) International conflicts around kimchi as national food. The case of kimchi is particularly interesting because it demonstrates the strength of national symbols related to basic human activities of eating and drinking; its’emergence is intimately related with national economic development; its’main promoters were autonomous actors of civil society pursuing their professional or sectoral interests; and the state intervention at the later phase provoked international conflicts due to the inherently contradictory nature of internationalization of national symbol
Keywords : Korea, Food, Nationalism, Kimchi, National Identity

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