Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 21, 2021
Primary Language: English
Informant: So in Korean culture… Before like a test or an exam you’re recommended not to drink or eat something that’s like soupy or runny. So, like, don’t have soup on the day of. And you should rather have something sticky like sticky rice or taffy or something like that, that has that like “oomph” to it… ‘Cause the correlation there is like, you drink something runny or you eat something that moves, then that information will leave with it. But if you have something sticky, that’ll help your brain stick that information into your head.
INFORMANT’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE PIECE:
Interviewer: Do you practice this?
Informant: No, I don’t. It’s just something my mom told me about… I haven’t really thought about it before like now.
Interviewer: But have you ever tried or tested it?
Informant: No, I haven’t.
According to James George Frazer, homeopathic magic is magic in which like produces like. We see that manifested here, as soupy foods are believed to wash away information, whereas sticky foods encourage information to stick. The idea that what you consume can directly impact your performance in daily life is not unique to Korean culture; it is widely accepted that food is tied to health. Science shows that eating certain foods leads to different physical outcomes (ex. eating carbohydrates versus eating protein before working out). What is unique about this Korean belief is that it is not based on the nutritional value of a food, but on how soupy or how sticky it is––on texture or consistency. This is why it is more likely to be considered a form of magic, than a science-based belief.