Korean royal court culture was doomed by the fall of the Joseon dynasty at the hands of Japanese imperial forces at the beginning of the twentieth century. After the establishment of Japanese colonial administration in 1910, court traditions mostly disappeared as displaced royal family members and their former attendants grew older and suffered economic hardships. It was only in the 1970s that royal court cuisine began to receive official attention as part of efforts to reconstruct and preserve national cultural heritage. In 1970, the royal cuisine of the Joseon dynasty was designated by the state as the Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 38. Through a detailed case study of Hwang Hye-seong (1920-2006), the second state-designated holder of the cultural property, this paper examines the process by which “royal court cuisine”was identified and redefined within the framework of the Important Intangible Cultural Property system in Korea, and analyzes how the royal cuisine thus reconstructed has come to be established, recognized, and successfully commoditized as a specific brand of haute cuisine in the dietary culture of late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century Korea.
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