Noodles symbolize long and healthy life. In modern times, noodles have become known as the most economical alternative to a regular meal as they take only half the time to cook and eat in comparison. Today, noodles are considered fast food, but in the past, they were only available to the social elite because of the complex preparation process. Before wheat flour became widespread in Korea, noodles were made from dark buckwheat. As viscous flour became more readily available, noodle cuisines in Korea flourished.
Noodles are always present on Korean tables on birthdays and other special events. In the past, aristocrats would serve noodles to their guests to show off their wealth. Since then, the public has come to perceive noodles as precious foods for the elite that equal long, healthy life. The first kind of Korean instant food was somyeon, thin noodles made of flour dough. Janchi guksu (party noodles), served in rich broth and decorated with various kinds of relish, were a symbol of good wishes. These different kinds of broth and relish make starch-based noodles more nutritionally balanced.
Noodles are the perfect food for busy Koreans in modern times. From instant noodles to jjolmyeon and glass noodles, long noodle strands transform their form and flavor with the changing seasons and ingredients. Noodles are considered by some to be the strands of life that hold together the past, the present, and the future. What do noodles mean in Korea? We explore the depths of the significance of noodles in daily Korean life.