[Weekender] Keeping cool with food over the centuries

By Julie Kim Jackson
  • Published : Jul 22, 2016 - 16:40
  • Updated : Jul 22, 2016 - 16:40

An exhibition on how Korea’s forefathers refreshed themselves during long, sweltering summer days is on at the National Folk Museum in Seoul, offering modern-day tips on how to keep cool.

“The exhibition highlights how the summer activities of our ancestors have been passed down through generations and adapted to modern times,” said Choi Jeung-cheol, the president of KCDF, at a press conference at the museum on Tuesday.

“Eumsik dimibang” from the late Joseon period (Korea Craft and Design Foundation)

The multimedia exhibition “One Summer Day’s Repose: Taste, Palate and Healing” balances tradition and modernity, juxtaposing time-honored relics and customs with the latest touch-screen technologies.

The exhibition greets museumgoers with a video projection of a silhouetted woman cooking in an old-fashioned kitchen.

One highlight is “Eumsik dimibang,” a cookbook that dates to around 1670 and was written by Jang Gye-hang from the Joseon era. It is the first of its kind to be written in Hangeul, the Korean writing system, instead of Chinese characters.

The exhibition also features crafts and household goods designed by contemporary artists who have reinterpreted centuries-old inventions.

There is also a touch-screen media table that illustrates step-by-step how to prepare classic Korean dishes, such as dolminari-muchim (seasoned wild parsley) and yeongeun-chojeolim (pickled lotus roots).

Some of the seasonal food shown there comes to life during the hands-on component of the exhibition. 

“Eumsik dimibang” from the late Joseon period (Korea Craft and Design Foundation)

Yoo Jong-ha, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and the owner of the modern Korean restaurant Amimoon, is conducting outdoor cooking lessons at Ochondaek, a traditional Korean house donated to the museum, on weekends. He demonstrates and allows visitors to taste some of the most iconic and beloved Korean dishes, including mineotang (croaker soup), chogyetang (chilled chicken soup) and thirst-quenching hwachae (traditional Korean fruit punch).

“Ochondaek is one of the most visited places in the entire museum,” said Cho Hye-young, the exhibition’s art director. “Anyone can come here to rest and experience summer through the eyes of our ancestors, even for a brief moment.”

According to the museum’s director-general Cheon Jin-gi, one of the objectives of the exhibition is to help museumgoers momentarily escape the notorious summer here.

“It is our hope that ‘One Summer Day’s Repose’ will offer visitors a place to learn, rest, and seek comfort and solace in the continuing hot days,” said Cheon.

“One Summer Day’s Repose: Taste, Palate and Healing” runs until Aug. 22. For more information, visit

By Kim Yu-young (