By Lee Kyung-sik (publisher of The Korea Post) with Reporter Sua Kim
Among the important Korean food items is one called Ddeok, or rice cakes. Users of the McCune Reischauer transliteration system would spell it Ttok.
The Korean rice cakes, according to historical records, date back to the Gojoseon Period (B.C. 2333), which the people had on various occasions, including festival days, ceremonial occasions and folk religious events. Of course, nowadays, the people use Ddeok just for the taste of them.
In the past in Korea, the rice cakes were just ‘eating’ but with the passage of time they have undergone changes.
And very recently, art has been added to the Korean rice cakes, and there are various shapes and colors of Ddeok, many of them with utter beauty.
Rice cake-making, originally, was a thing for women, especially married women. Nowaday, again, Ddeok has become target of artistic support in Korea and graduates of art universities in Seoul have begun joining the rice cake-making adding art to Ddeok.
Graduates of the College of Fine Arts at Hongik University in Seoul, the most prestigious art school in Korea, has at length joined the efforts in Korea to make the Korean Ddeok not only tasty but also make them please the eye of the people.
The ‘flower rice cakes’ they make (or rather ‘create’) are told apart from those made at the ordinary flower rice cake shops in that the former is made for the purpose of pleasing the ‘artistically oriented eyes’ of the guests—as well as the taste.
The Korean people have a time-honored wise-saying, Bogie Joeungeon Meokkiedo Jota, which means “That which pleases the eye also pleases the palate.”
At the diplomatic functions in Seoul, such as the National Days of the different countries of the world and also the diplomatic anniversary days with Korea, the embassies host receptions at the deluxe hotels and/or at the ambassadors’ residences.
It might be a good idea to try to use the ‘art rice cake flowers of Korea’ to add accent to the important occasion.
The hosts could use a wide variety of topics and themes to highlight the meaning of their National Days through the use of the celebration cakes thus made.
It might be good idea to try to find an appropriate art rice cake maker who is from a reputed art university in Seoul or from such schools in any country of the world.
Editor’s Note: The writer is the former Cultural Editor of The Korea Herald, a leading English-language daily newspaper published in Seoul and circulated nationally and internationally. Further details, please contact the writers at 02-2298-1743 or 010-5201-1740.