The second in the spring season of SOAS seminars will be an in-person event in College Buildings:
Seminar: Joseon Ryori versus Hansik
National food traditions are an important element of national identity and therefore they can be used as an effective instrument in a state’s cultural politics and the construction of its global image. Since the division of the Korean Peninsula into two independent states in 1948, Korean cuisine has developed in two separate directions. Today, two variations of Korean cuisine not only differ in their official names (hansik in the South, joseon ryori in the North) but also transmit different cultural and ideological messages both within and outside the two Korean states. The lecture aims at demonstrating how the official North Korean discourse presents the national cuisine for domestic and foreign audiences and how it is built in the ideology and propaganda system in the DPRK. The North Korean national food narrative will be compared with the South one. By analyzing the differences and similarities in the official national food discourse, the lecturer will make a conclusion about the development of the national identity policy of two Korean states and its interrelation with nationalist sentiments.
The special focus will be given to the role of the North Korean state leaders in this process. Among other issues we will also discuss the North Korean national food symbols and analyze the reasons and the process of its construction. Another interesting aspect of the topic is North Korean restaurants located abroad and the role they play as the ambassadors of North Korean food and culture in the world.
The examination will be undertaken via the analysis of a range of North Korean culinary literature from different periods, state leaders’ writings on food issues, official propaganda resources oriented separately at domestic and foreign recipients, evidence provided by defectors and others who have experience of living and working in the DPRK on a long-term basis, and materials collected by the author during her field research conducted in North Korean restaurants located in Moscow in 2016 and a visit to Pyongyang in October 2017.
Maria Osetrova is an associate professor at Moscow State Linguistic University and also a researcher at the Center for Korean Studies, Institute of Far Eastern Studies (Russian Academy of Sciences). Her main research interests include contemporary Korean culture and society (both South and North), cultural politics, food anthropology, past and present of Russian-Korean cultural relations.
Food image photo credit: Markus Winkler (Unsplash)