On the everything-you-know-is-wrong front, Korea Beat translates a story from Naver that a Korean scholar claims he has found evidence that Korea did not get hot peppers from the Americas by way of European traders—you know, how historically the rest of the world got them. He claims that they evolved independently on the peninsula, or rather, they had peppers before Columbus landed in the New World.

Read about it here.

For anyone interested, here’s what I wrote in the comments:

This comes as a big surprise, and I read books on food history more than anything.

To me, it looks like they’re trying a linguistic approach to proving their thesis. Maybe similar to us trying to say that hot peppers came to Europe from India in the Middle Ages because the writings of the time talked about the popularity of black pepper.

It’s highly unlikely that capsicum plants are indigenous to Korea–like it’s some big culinary secret that a small group held from the rest of the world until after the Portuguese started trading around east Asia in the 17th century and then SUDDENLY Asian cuisines as far west as India adopted hot peppers thanks to Korea alone.

What I do find interesting is this new mystery. What is this 고쵸 that the researchers have found? What was really in that early gochujang?

The idea that peppers in Korea evolved separately from peppers in Central America belongs in the same category as Mole People. You’d have better luck and a better chance of really pissing people off if you go ahead and try to prove that Japan got the original form of sushi by way of Korea–of which I think there’s a credible thesis.

Don't make mistakes other travelers have made!

Get regular emails with insider tips on how to maximize your visit to Korea. Sign up now!

Tour Tips Newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!