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Having fun reading, cooking, and eating!






Korea’s food and culture have been continuously developing and evolving over a long history. And as Korea’s culture is now widespread across the world, its food and culture have joined the Korean Wave, captivating the global community. Besides, foreigners are enjoying the so-called “K-Food,” and Korea’s “cooking shows” or “mukbang (videos of people eating food)” have become a trending type of content that overseas audiences search for.
Korea’s food-related content clearly shows what is currently trending in the Korean culture, which attracts the eyes of the overseas audience. Even though fewer people are looking up books to find out about K-Food content due to the development of video platforms like Youtube, books and recipes of Korean food, sometimes written by Korean celebrities, are published in the market. The following section introduces books on K-Food.


Korea’s food and culture have become a part of the Korean Wave (Hallyu) and are mesmerizing the entire world.



Korean food, highly rich in flavor, just like its long history


Over the course of the long history of Korea, Korean food has never stopped changing. And its cultural depth leads to the depth of its flavors. Traditional Korean food mainly consists of grains and vegetables, and fermented food such as kimchi, doenjang (fermented soybean paste), and gochujang (red pepper paste) is well developed. Also, there is diverse indigenous food using the specialties of each region. As such, Korean food is recognized as a “healthy diet,” or a “diet for long life” in both home and abroad. Adding to this, the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences chose 100 traditional Korean dishes that people can easily try making themselves to spread the reputation of excellent Korean food and put them in Korean Traditional Local Cuisines (21st Century Books), which was then translated into Vietnamese, English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabian and published in overseas markets.


<한국전통 향토음식> 영어

<한국전통 향토음식> 중국어

<한국전통 향토음식> 스페인어판 표지

Covers of the English, Chinese, and Spanish editions of Korean Traditional Local Cuisines


As the vegan diet is trending across the world today, temple food is receiving a spotlight among all other types of Korean cuisine. Temple food refers to dishes mainly enjoyed in temples, which is also sought by ordinary people for a healthy diet. The best recipe books for temple food written by sunims (monks) are Page One Recipes of Daeahn Sunim (Gimm-Young Publishers), Seonjae Sunim’s Korean Temple Food (Bulkwang Publishing), and Wookwan’s Korean Temple Food (Style Books). In particular, Wookwan sunim even won the Silver Prize for the Cooking Book of the Year designated by the US Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) in 2019.


<Wookwan’s Korean Temple Food>

<한식문화총서 - 조선 왕실의 식탁>

<한식 인문학>

Wookwan’s Korean Temple Food,
Korean Food Culture Series – A Dining Table for the Joseon Royal Family, Humanities of Korean Food


Korean food becomes an ingredient for writing various types of books as well. For example, Korean Food Culture Series (Hollym) written by the Korean Food Promotion Institute (KFPI) is a 5-volume series that talks about the history of Joseon and modern history, along with stories about food through references and images. Also, Humanities of Korean Food (Healthletter) is a liberal arts book about food that reinterpreted the diversity of Korean food from the eyes of science. And Poem and Korean Food (Korea Food Service Information Educenter) is a book that describes 64 Korean seasonal cuisines through poems.



Easy recipe books written by celebrities


The so-called “cooking show” on TV has become a trend in the Korean broadcasting industry. If such cooking shows are like documentary films showing how people make food overseas, Korea’s cooking shows have settled as entertainment programs that include “mukbangs.” Also, as the popularity of cooking shows increases, the books written by the starring celebrities are becoming more popular too. For example, Lee Jung-Hyun’s Home Meal Restaurant (Seosawon) was published after the food made by actress and singer Lee Jung-Hyun got famous on a TV show called “Fun-Staurant.” Also, the recipes of actress Kim Su-Mi who is starring in an entertainment show “Soo Mi's Side Dishes” that intends to encourage cooking at home, that has almost disappeared with more people eating outside, were included in the book with the same title Soo Mi's Side Dishes (Seong-Andang). This is not the end – books like Please Take Care of My Refrigerator (JoongangBooks) and Three Meals a Day (andbooks) titled after TV programs also provide recipes showcased in the shows.


<이정현의 집밥레스토랑>

<수미네 반찬>

<심영순 마스터의 건강한 밥상>

Lee Jung-Hyun’s Home Meal Restaurant, Soo Mi's Side Dishes, Healthy Meals of Master Shim Young-Soon


Meanwhile, recipe books by famous Korean chefs often seen on TV shows are getting increasingly popular as well. These books introduce recipes used by the chefs on the show in a nice and easy way. For example, chef Sam Kim provides his recommendations and recipes for his secret sauce through his book Sam Kim’s Homemade Italian (Rosy) and chef Raymon Kim introduces the simplest recipes for everyone by dividing the contents of the series Raymon Kim’s Simple Cooking (Wisdom Style) into food ingredients people are most familiar with. Also, master Shim Young-Soon offers authentic recipes for making Korean food through her book Healthy Meals of Master Shim Young-Soon (ST Unitas).


<만원으로 일주일 반찬 만들기>

<칼로리컷 다이어트 레시피>

<심방골 주부의 엄마손 집밥>

Making Side Dishes for a Week with 10 Dollars, Calorie-Cutting Recipes, Mother’s Recipes by Shimbanggol


Recipe books written by YouTubers running cooking channels are hugely popular as well. For example, Youtuber Yoloria presents the best 96 recipes recognized by her 280 thousand subscribers in her bookMaking Side Dishes for a Week with 10 Dollars (Gilbut). And Calorie-Cutting Recipes (Cypress Books)is a recipe book by Laella, a content creator with 70 thousand subscribers on Youtube and Instagram. Meanwhile, Mother’s Recipes by Shimbanggol (Chungrim Publishing)written by a 62 year old content creator Shimbanggol introduces recipes for home meals that contain 40 years of her know-how as a housewife. It is currently popular among readers with humble and simple recipes that recall those of Mom.



Various stories about cooking


There are also books that talk about cooking, even without recipes. For example, Master’s Cooking (Woongjin Thinkbig) is an essay about the life of Chinese cuisine chef Lee Yeon-Bok. Talking about his 50-year cooking career, the book has everything a reader could want from a master who has been countlessly repeating the same work in the kitchen and researching for so many years. Meanwhile, What Shall We Eat Today? (Diary R) is an essay introducing Korean food and popular restaurants, based on the column “What Shall We Eat Today?” that has been serialized in Donga Ilbo since 2017. Also, whileWarm Message from the Table (JS in Books) is a book about food and cooking, it tells readers how cooking can be a healing activity, and not stressful work. The author provides tips on how to fill in the missing holes in life through cooking and food.


<사부의 요리>

<오늘 뭐먹지?>

<식탁의 위로>

Master’s Cooking, What Shall We Eat Today?, Warm Message from the Table


Cooking-themed webcomics are popular as well. When we look at cutely drawn pictures of food, our mouths water even although we know they are merely pictures. The best example is Omurice Jam Jam (Songsong Books)a series serialized on Daum Webtoon that currently has 11 volumes up to date. Also, Joy of Cooking (WJ Fun Fun) serialized on Naver Webtoon introduces itself as “the comic you eat with your eyes.” While choosing one food to be discussed in each episode, its book is filled with mouth-watering illustrations and various tips for cooking.


<오무라이스 잼잼>

<밥 먹고 갈래요?>


Omurice Jam Jam, Joy of Cooking, Chicken Odyssey


On top of these, books for craftsman exams such as Mastering Craftsman Cook, Korean Food Exam (Seong-Andang), Integrated Book for Craftsman Cook, Chinese / Japanese / Blowfish Exam (Sangsang Books)and books that provide information on how to become a cook for teenagers like I am a Cook (Teencareerbell) are popular as well. Also, there are many liberal arts books that talk about food such as The Flavor of Baeksuk (Phronesis),a poetry collection that reinterpreted the works of modern poet Baeksuk with food and hicken Odyssey (Maumsanchaek) a liberal arts book about cooking and the humanity.


Books related to K-Food are not contained to a single field but come in various genres such as literature, webcomics, essay, and exam materials.


“Healing” and “self-management” have become the keywords that represent the overall Korean culture, including food. Contents about K-Food are also changing with such a trend. As people are spending more time at home due to the coronavirus, how about a little warmth and comfort from tasty and healthy food through books about K-food?



Written by Choi Ha-Yeong


Choi Ha-Yeong

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