Traditional Korean Soups

Text: “On Korean New Year, people eat rice cake soup and on birthdays people eat seaweed soup.”

Context: The informant is Korean-American. Her parents immigrated from Korea but the informant grew up in the United States and moved around different states as a child. The informant is 21 years old and she currently attends the University of Southern California. The informant grew up with these Korean traditions. The rice cake soup is called tteokguk and is made with sliced rice cakes, beef or chicken broth, and multiple garnishes such as egg and seaweed. The soup is said to bring good luck and fortune at the start of the year. The seaweed soup is called miyeok-guk. This traditional soup is made with seaweed, beef, and various seasonings. This soup is regarded as a means of celebrating a person’s life and health for another year. This is a tradition because it’s a reminder of the value of nutrition and good health in preserving a long and happy life.

Analysis: I was very interested to learn about these traditional soups from the informant because I don’t have many food traditions like this in my culture. The closest traditional food I eat is a birthday cake. I’ve never heard of traditional soups for birthdays and New Year. I’m fascinated by the Korean traditions that are dedicated to good luck and life preservation. These seem to be common themes in Korean culture.