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Saturday, March 3, 2012

오방색 Obangsaek Philosophy in Korean Cuisines

Korean food is known as a healthy cuisine and colorful look. Philosophical and spiritual aspects are influencing of the Korean cuisines because in the ancient times, food from all cultures had religious significance such as people believed that sharing the food offered to gods, spirits or ancestors brought them blessings. The obangsaek is one of the spiritual aspect of Korean cuisines which heirs from the ancient times too.
Obangsaek is the main colors which always seen on the Korean food. It is contains of 5 colors that represents of the five elements of the universe.

Photo :

Black color is represented of water and north directions.
Red color is represented of fire and south directions.
Blue or green color is represented of wood and east directions.
White color is represented of metal and west directions.
Yellow color is represented of earth and center.

We can say that putting of those five colors ingredients into Korean food means the united of Yin and Yang's principles, five different elements and directions of the universe into one harmony.

Cheong (blue or green color)
Blue or green symbolizes of youth, spring, trees and stands for the east in terms of cardinal directions. The ingredients which usually use in Korean food are cucumber, green onion, water celery, wild sesame leaves. They are useful for heart, energizing liver and intestines.

Jeok (red)
It represents of fire, summer, mannerism, the south and exorcism. Koreans hang red chili peppers attached to a straw rope around the earthenware jars to protect from negative energy. The ingredients releted with this color are red bean, red rice and red pepper. as a medicine they are useful for aid blood circulation.

Heok (black)
It represents of water, the north and the wisdom. It tends to calm the mind and also good for kidney and bladder. Black beans, black rice, black sesame seeds, stone mushroom, laver and seaweed are the example of black colored Korean food category.

Baek (white)
Garlic, onion, potato, lotus root, radish, bean sprout are some of example of white colored on Korean food. It represent of innocence, justice, stands of the west of cardinal direction, metal and autumn among the seasons. White colored foods give the good impact for lung and respiratory organs.

Hwang (yellow)
Refers to soil and represents of the virtue of faith, which embodies all the virtues represented by blue, red, black, and white. It also stands for the center and authority, and thus considered a very precious color used only for garments worn by the king. Yellow ingredients in oriental medicine, relate to the functions of the pancreas, stomach and increase the appetite. They are pumpkin, sweet potato, doenjang and soy sauce.

The beauty philosophical obangsaek in Korean cuisine can be seen clearly on bibimbap, gujeolpan, sinseollo and manymore. Bibimbap for example, conveys harmony of five colors in the universe and Yin and Yang's principles in orderly combines vegetables and meats all together.

Bibliography :
Korean Food The Originality

Video credits :
Obangsaek (오방색) [Arirang TV] uploaded by arirangnews.
비빔밥 Bibimbap, Rice Mixed with Vegetables and Beef uploaded by TheTasteOfKorea

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