what it is: korea's image problem
where i found it: here and there
Korea has some of the most unique and delicious food on the planet, beautiful temple architecture,
strange and awesome 60s and 70s psych and pop music, haunting and psychotic black metal, one of a kind traditional music/art and a lot of other stuff I don't know about. Thing is, they don't seem to be able to export any of this very well or spread the word to non-Koreans. I've tried, and it's quite difficult to find out more, even when you're curious. Over the next few days I'll post about a few Korean things that I have been able to make some headway with.
I realize that I'm taking a Western-centric view point here, like there's something wrong with you if you don't shower whitey with your cultural secrets. But I'm whitey and I want in on the secrets!
Let's start today with the food. In the US of A, you can usually find a Korean restaurant within a hundred miles of you (meanwhile there's Chinese, Japanese and Thai within ten feet). Different than what most Westerners are used to, but nothing too surprising: some spice, some noodle dishes, some casseroles, some kim chi and a lot of little side dishes. When I actually ate in Korea, however, every meal was like something from a alien gourmet planet. I never knew what I was eating until I asked. It might have been jellyfish tentacles, some incomprehensible transmogrification of rice or booze that tasted like sweet milk. But it was 90% delicious. Usually there are so many side dishes that they're nearly falling off the table, so even if you know what you ordered, strange and unusual things continue appearing throughout the meal.
This blog has some nice photos and decent recipes.
This page has some interesting information about how geography and history have influenced Korean cuisine.
This page discusses how a national crisis was created when the price of cabbage (the main ingredient in kim chi) went up in Korea last year. It is also depressing to read about how people don't have time to make kim chi at home any more because they're working too many hours at the Outback Steak House.