History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Korea (544 CE to 2021)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-39-7

Publication Date: 2021 June 1

Number of References in Bibliography: 2092

Earliest Reference: 544 CE

Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Korea (544 CE to 2021)

Brief chronology of soy in Korea.

The most widely used soyfoods in Korea today are:

Soy sauce (ganjang)

Soybean paste (doenjang)

Soybean curd (dubu)

Red pepper paste (gochujang)

Soybean sprouts (kongnamul)

Korean soybean koji (meju)

Korean-style natto (chongkukjang. cheonggukjang)

544 CE – The Qimin Yaoshu [Important Arts for the People’s Welfare], by Jia Sixie (Chinese) states, when listing the different types of soybeans: There are also the yellow Korean bean (huang gaolidou), the black Korean bean (hei gaolidou),…” This is the earliest document seen that mentions Korea in connection with soybeans.

668 CE or before – “Ancient Chinese records indicate that soy sauce is not indigenous to China, but rather was introduced from Korea during the era of the Koguryo Dynasty” (2nd century BCE to 668 CE) (Kwon & Song 1996, p. 20-32).

683 CE – A record states that Korean-style jang (toenjang) and soy sauce (kanjang) are among the presents exchanged at a royal wedding (Pettid 2008).

9th century Soy sauce and soybean paste start to be made in Korean homes (Cwiertka 2006, p. 389-410).

1613 – The Dongui Bogam, by Heo Jun (Jo, Dyun) is published in Korea. This is an early, important and widely known book in traditional Korean medicine. In it, the medicinal functions of doenjang are first described.

1650-1700 – Red pepper paste is first mentioned in Korean documents.

1876 – Japan, starting to act like a European imperial power, “opens” Korea, demanding that Pusan be designated as a treaty port and opened for Japanese free trade and residence – just at Japan herself had been “opened” in 1854 by Commodore Matthew C. Perry, U.S. Navy. Soon Japan “opened” more ports and cities in Korea: Wonsan (1881), Inch'on (1883), Mokp'o (1897), and Kunsan (1899) – all modeled on the unequal Sino-Korean treaty of 1882 (Delissen 2000).

These fateful, unfriendly moves would place Japan on a course that would inexorably lead to World War II.

The number of Japanese residing on the Korean peninsula increased from less than 1,000 in the 1880s to over 170,000 in 1910 (Duus 1995).

1883 Sept. – “Account of a secret trip to the interior of Korea” [in 1875], by W.J. Kenny is published in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan (11(Part II):141-47. He mentions various soyfoods, but he did not like them.

1886 – The earliest known commercial soy sauce brewery in Korea, the Yamamoto Soy Sauce Brewery, is established in the port city of Pusan (Cwiertka 2006, p. 389-410).

1895 April 17 – The Treaty of Shimonoseki ends the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95); Japanese victory establishes Japan as a regional power. China is obliged to cede Taiwan (Formosa), the nearby Pescadores Islands, and the Kwantung Peninsula in South Manchuria to Japan; recognize Korea's independence; etc. The origin of the Sino-Japanese War was a dispute over Korean affairs. Previously China had adamantly insisted on its suzerainty over Korea – which Japan refused to recognize.

1898Korea and Her Neighbors: A Narrative of Travel, with an Account of the Recent Vicissitudes and Present Position of the Country. 2 vols., by Mrs. Isabella L. Bird Bishop is published in London. The author made four visits to Korea between Jan. 1894 and March 1897. She mentions various soyfoods.

1885-1904 – A 30-page study of the grain trade between Korea and Japan is written by Dennis McNamara, Center for Korean Studies, University of California, Berkeley (dated 2 Nov. 1983). Korea increasingly exports rice and soybeans to Japan as Japan industrializes.

1900 – An article titled “Some Common Korean Foods,” by J.D. VanBuskirk is published in the Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Vol. 14, pages 1-8). Table 1, "Korean food products," based on statistics published in the 1917 report by the Bureau of Agriculture of the government General, shows Korean production in millions of bushels: Rice 61. Barley 25. Millet 19. Wheat 8. Beans and peas 18. The section titled "Bean and pea foods" (p. 4-5) gives the name of each food with Korean characters and discusses:

Bean curd (tu-bu)

Bean residue [okara] (pi-chi)

Bean sauce (kan-chang; a liquid) made with me-ju [soybean koji]

The solid part of the sauce (toin-chang)

Another bean sauce [Korean-style natto] (ko-cho-chang)

Sprouted beans (kong-na-mul)

1905 Sept. 5 – The Treaty of Portsmouth ends the Russo-Japanese War (Feb. 1904-1905). In a mere 50 years Japan has transformed herself from an isolated underdeveloped country with no industrial base into a modern nation, a major military and industrial power. The victorious Japanese move into Korea. The treaty gives Japan the Russian lease on the Kwantung Peninsula and the Russian-built South Manchurian Railway as far north as Changchun. This victory wins for Japan full status as a world power and equality with the nations of the West.

1907 – Korea becomes a Japanese protectorate.

1909 – The earliest known statistics for soybean area and production in Korea are as follows: The area cultivated rose dramatically from 280,090 cho in 1909 to a peak of 375,340 cho in 1912 (1 cho = 2.451 acres). Production also rose sharply from 1,533,027 koku in 1909 to 2,452,203 koku in 1912 (1 koku = 180 liters or 47.6 gallons) (Bulletin Economique de l'Indochine (Hanoi), March/April 1915, p. 260).

1910 Aug. – Using the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, Japan forcibly annexes Korea as a province called Chōsen. Japan will continue to exercise rather harsh control over Korea until 1945, including importing a large percentage of the soybeans grown in Korea

1920 – Soybean production in Japan peaks at about 548,000 metric tons per year, as Japan begins to import more and more low-cost soybeans from Manchuria and Korea. As a result, soybeans become unprofitable for Japanese farmers and they tend to grow soybeans mainly for their own home use. Soybean production in Japan continues to fall until 1945 – near the end of World War II.

1922 – La Choy Food Products begins to sell soy sauce in the United States. Based in Detroit, Michigan, the company was founded to produce mung bean sprouts in Detroit, by Mr. Ilhan New (a Korean) and Wally Smith. Soon they are doing a booming business and by 1922 they are importing fermented soy sauce from China in wooden barrels to use as a seasoning in their Asian food products. Mr. New is the earliest known Korean to make soyfoods in the Western world. By 1923 Chinese & Korean Soy Co. was selling soy sauce in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1929 Oct. 23 – P.H. Dorsett and William Morse arrive in Keijo (Seoul), Korea, as plant explorers during their 2½ year agricultural expedition to East Asia. They study soybeans (at harvest time) and soyfoods and take many black-and-white photos that still exist in the 8,818-page log of their expedition at the USDA National Agricultural Library (Beltsville, Maryland). The Japanese authorities are very helpful and cooperative. They return to Japan on Dec. 8.

1930: From June 24 to July 1 Morse takes a quick trip to northern Korea to look for Zoysia grass.

1930: From Aug 21 to Sept. 28 Morse is back in Korea studying soybeans (at planting time) and collecting soybean germplasm in both northern and southern Korea. The log provides a rare, valuable record of soybeans and agriculture in Korea during this time.

1938 – 17.8% of the soybean imports of Japan proper came from Korea (Lautensach 1988); most of the rest of Japan’s soybean imports came from Manchuria.

1945 Sept. 2 – Surrender of Japan after World War II. The documents of unconditional surrender are signed on board the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor. Japan's empire is broken up. Manchoukuo (Manchuria) and Formosa (Taiwan) are returned to China. Korea is divided into north and south.

1945 – The earliest known Korean tofu company is started in the United States in Los Angeles (Lager 1945).

1945Korean Recipes, by Harriet Morris, is the earliest know Korean cookbook that mentions soyfoods published in the United States. It contains a recipe for making soy or bean sprouts at home, and a recipe for using Bean Sprouts (Khong na-mool).

1945Korea: Eine Landeskunde auf Grund eiener Reisen und der Literatur [Korea: A geography based on the author's travels and literature], by Hermann Lautensach is published. It contains extensive information about soybeans in Korea in 1938. In 1988 it was published in English, with updated Korean names.

1948 May – South Korea declares independence as the Republic of Korea with Seoul as its capital.

1948 Sept. to Dec. – Heartsill Banks, a soybean expert, goes to Korea to study soybeans and soyfoods. He reports back in several articles published in Soybean Digest.

1949 June – Raymond Culbertson and Allan K. Smith report on soybeans and soyfoods in Korea in Soybean Digest.

1950 June 25 – Outbreak of the Korean War between North and South Korea. The war began when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and insurrections in the south. Though estimates vary widely, approximately 900,000 North Koreans, or 10 percent of North Korea's population, migrated to the South between 1945 and 1953. The fighting ends on 27 July 1953, when the armistice agreement is signed. The agreement restores the border between the Koreas near the 38th Parallel and creates the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 2.5-mile (4.0 km)-wide fortified buffer zone between the two Korean nations. Minor incidents continue there to this day.

1966-1975 – “Korea's thriving economy presents the fastest growing new market for American soybeans. Between 1966 and 1970 annual Korean imports of soybeans and soybean products totalled 40,000 metric tons (MT). In the next 5 years imports increased to 58,000 MT. Then, in 1976, purchases leaped to 300,000 MT (Soybean Digest, 1979. July/Aug. p. SID-1-2).

1968 – The Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology is launched, and is still being published. It contains a large number of articles about Korean soyfoods.

1968 July – The American Soybean Association (ASA) decides to expand its market development activities to Korea. Scott Sawyers, ASA country director in Japan, reports back on the soybean market in Korea in Soybean Digest (Sept. 1968, p. 68+). In May 1972 Sawyers wrote “Korea – a growing market for U.S. soybeans” in Soybean Digest, p. 26-29).

1972 Aug. 24 – A favorable review of the restaurant Korea House is published in the Chicago Tribune. An estimated 10,000 people of Korean ancestry now reside in Chicago. Four years ago there was only one Korean restaurant in the city; now there four.

1979 July – The American Soybean Association opens an office in Seoul, Korea with the goal of selling more soybeans and soybean products (oil and meal) in Korea. It is headed by Dr. Kyung Lee, a native Korean and graduate of University of Illinois. Now a U.S. citizen, Dr. Lee has been an ASA employee for nearly six years.

“The bustling Korean economy is one of the fastest growing new markets for American soybeans. In the last three years Koreans have nearly doubled their purchases of U.S. soybeans from 155,000 metric tons in 1976 to over 300,000 metric tons in 1978. Growth is expected to continue…”

1982 – Dr. Chung’s Foods Co. is the largest producer of soymilk in Korea. Annual sales in 1981 were about $14 million.

1984 AprilKorea Soybean Digest begins publication, in Korean only.

1989 – The best article seen to date about soyfoods in Korea is “Vegetable Protein Foods in Korea,” by S.H. Kim and T.W. Kwon of the Korea Foods Research Inst. in Seoul, Korea (In Applewhite 1989, p. 439-442).

1997 Dec. 18 – Kim Dae Jung, a longtime dissident, wins the presidential election, ushering in a period of freedom and democracy for South Korea.

2000 Oct. 13 – Kim Dae Jung is named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward reconciliation with North Korea.

2000 July 17 – A new system for Romanization of Korean into English, named the Revised Romanization (RR) is introduced – a revision of the McCune-Reischauer system. It makes Korean (hangul) compatible with the computer age. It was developed by the National Academy of the Korean Language from 1995 and was released to the public on 7 July 2000 by South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Proclamation No. 2000-8.

2001 Jan. – Formation of Soyworld Museum Promotion Committee (SMPC), initiated by Prof. Tai-Wan Kwon, Founding Chairman, searching for the museum site and fund raising.

2005 Oct. – Publication of the book Soybean by SMPC at Korea University Press (15 chapters, 794 p.).

2008 April – Cyber Soyworld Museum and Home-page open (www.soyworld.org). Note: This URL has changed. For the latest URL search for the name Soyworld Science Museum.

2008 Dec. – Memorandum of understanding with Yeongju City for the construction of Soyworld Science Museum.

2008Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History, by Michael J. Pettid is published in London. Outstanding.

2009 May – Project for the Basic Plan for the construction of Soyworld Science Museum (Dr. Jong-Hwan Hwang).

2011 March – Project for the Soy-world story telling (Ms. Mi-Kyung Yu).

2013 Feb. – Completion of basic design of the Soyworld Science Museum in Yeongju.

2013 March – Ground-breaking for the start of Museum construction.

2014 March – Donation of Soybean Growth Chamber by Dr. Chung's Food.

2014 Sept. – Completion of Exhibition Hall, Activity Hall and Soybean Growth Chamber.

2014 Dec. – The Korea Food Research Institute begins to publish the Journal of Ethnic Foods (Open Access).

2015 April 30 – Opening of Soyworld Science Museum in Yeongju, South Korea. “The basic message of the museum is that soybean cultivation originated on the Korean Peninsula – not in Manchuria or in China.”

According to Dr. Cherl-Ho Lee (Jan. 2018): “The construction cost, building and exhibition except for land and personnel, was 5 billion won (ca. 5 million USD.). The museum was built by Yeongju City. The Yeongju Agricultural Extension Center is managing the museum. The entrance fee has been planned, but for the time being no fee is collected. The number of visitors is 200-300 during weekend, and 50 during weekdays; children 50%, middle and high school students 20%, adults 30%, and a very few foreigners 1-2%.”

Present Status: South Korea takes great pride in its soyfoods, especially its fermented soyfoods, which many current studies show have therapeutic or medicinal value.

South Korea is also a shining example of a democratic country that has rid itself of three authoritarian regimes.

“Total domestic soybean consumption in MY (Marketing Year) 2021/22 is forecast to stay around 1.39 million MT (MMT). MY 2020/21 soybean consumption is expected to stay around 1.39 MMT, down 0.9 percent from the previous year.

“MY 2021/22 soybean imports are forecast to remain unchanged at 1.3 MMT. MY 2020/21 soybean imports are expected to increase slightly (0.7 percent) to 1.3 MMT.

“The 2021 autonomous food grade TRQ is expected for release in early March 2021.

“MY 2021/22 demand for crushing soybeans will remain flat at one MMT if crushing margins remain steady.

“MY 2021/22 soybean oil imports are forecast at 450,000 MT, up five percent from the current marketing year's estimate. In MY 2020/21, soybean oil imports are expected to increase seven percent to 430,000 MT.” (Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Seoul, Korea).

Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Korea (544 CE to 2021)