Summer Bioethics Program in Korea

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Traditional full-course meal







Hanbok, traditional clothing

About Korea

  • Capital City: Seoul (10.1 million)
  • Territory: 223,098km2 (South Korea: 99,678km2)
  • Major cities: Seoul (10.1 million), Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (2.6 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Dajeon (1.5 million), Gwangju (1.4 million), Ulsan (1.1 million)
  • Climate: Temperate with four distinct seasons
  • Population: 48.46 million (2007)
  • Religion: A 2005 census showed half of the population actively practices religion. Among this group, Buddhism (43.0%), Protestantism (34.5%) and Catholicism (20.6%) comprise the three dominant religions.
  • Major Industrial Products: Semiconductors, automobiles, ships, consumer electronics, mobile telecommunication equipment, steel and chemicals
  • World Heritage
    • Haeinsa Temple Janggyeongpanjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks (1995)
    • Jongmyo Shrine (1995)
    • Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple (1995)
    • Changdeokgung Palace Complex (1997)
    • Hwaseong Fortress (1997)
    • Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (2000)
    • Gyeongju Historic Areas (2000)
    • Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes (2007)
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage
    • The Royal Ancestral Ritual at the Jongmyo Shrine and its Music (2001)
    • The Pansori Epic Chant (2003) 
    • The Gangneung Danoje Festival (2005)

Korean Food

Rice still remains the staple of most Koreans, but among the younger generations, many prefer Western-style food. Rice has been usually accompanied by various side dishes, mostly seasoned vegetables, soup, pot stew, and meat.

A traditional Korean  meal is not complete without kimchi, a mixture of various pickled vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, radish, green onion and cucumber. Certain types of kimchi are made spicy with the addition of red chili pepper powder, while others are prepared without red chili peppers or are soaked in a tasty liquid. However, garlic is always used in kimchi to add to its flavor.

In addition to kimchi, doenjang (soybean paste), with its anti-cancer attributes, has attracted the attention of modern-day nutritionists. Koreans used to make doenjang at home by boiling yellow beans, drying them in the shade, soaking them in salty water, and fermenting them in sunlight. However, only a few families go through this process anymore; the majority buy factory-made doenjang.

Among meat dishes, seasoned bulgogi (usually beef) and galbi (beef or pork ribs) are the most favored by both Koreans and foreigners.

Korean Clothing

Koreans weaved cloth with hemp and arrowroot and raised silkworms to produce silk. During the Three Kingdoms period, men wore jeogori (jacket), baji (trousers), and durumagi (overcoat) with a hat, belt and pair of shoes.

The women wore jeogori (short jacket) with two long ribbons tied to form an otgoreum (knot), a full length, high-waist wrap-around skirt called chima, a durumagi, beoseon (white cotton socks), and boat-shaped shoes.

This attire, known as Hanbok, has been handed down in the same form for men and women for hundreds of years with little change except for the length of the jeogori and chima.

Western wear entered Korea during the Korean War (1950-53), and during the rapid industrialization in the 1960s and 1970s, Hanbok use declined, being regarded as inappropriate for casual wear. Recently, however, Hanbok lovers have been campaigning to revitalize Hanbok and have updated styles to better fit modern work environments.

A few Koreans still wear traditional Hanbok but usually only on special holidays like Seollal and Chuseok and family festivities such as Hwangap, the celebration for parents turning 60.