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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Colonial Modernity and the Social History of Chemical Seasoning in Korea

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2005, v.45 no.2, pp.5-36

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Abstract

Ajinomoto, an artificial food ingredient, was a symbolic commodity of modernity in colonial Korea, which created an image of new and exotic taste and built an empire of taste all over East Asia and the west coast of America. Ajinomotos marketing strategy emphasized taste, economy, and science. While appropriating traditional authority, they also connected the modernization of dietary life with the consumption of Ajinomoto.Ajinomoto transformed not only the taste of food and the palates of people but also peoples attitudes toward food. This can be seen as the invention and maximization of desire for modern tastes. This invented taste and desire functioned as the deep structure of the artificial food ingredient market competition during Koreas modernization period.Miwon, a Korean chemical food company, recreated and dominated this market, which shrunk after the 1950s, by using the marketing strategy of alluding to Ajinomoto. Mipung, the next comer, adopted a strategy of direct imitation and borrowing of colonial memories and technology-oriented advertisement in order to re-divide and obtain market share. However, Miwon succeeded in staying in first place in the market by reconstructing their image as a national company pitted against a pro-Japanese company.This study illustrates how the dualism and complexity of colonial modernity functioned in the embodied world of taste. The successful strategy of drawing upon colonial memories while maintaining a certain distance shows the complex relations between modernity, colonialism and nationalism.

keywords
empire of taste chemical flavor implication copying borrowing embodiment colonial modernity. empire of taste chemical flavor implication copying borrowing embodiment colonial modernity.

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