From Strange Bitter Concoction to Romantic Necessity: The Social History of Coffee Drinking in South Korea
(Vol.45. No.2 Summer, 2005 pp.37~59)
Bak Sangmee
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This paper explores the notions of Korean, American, and global identities as shared among Koreans by examining coffee drinking practices and the meanings associated with them. This research shows that coffee drinking is a useful window through which to view the diverse dimensions of contemporary Korean society, and produces and represents various identities of Koreans in the global world. As this research into the case of the Starbuck espresso chain demonstrates, the expansion of multinational business as part of the process of globalization and global business` interaction with indigenous cultures clearly show us how "universalization of particularism" and "particularization of universalism," respectively, operate in the border-crossing of food cultures. Furthermore, the Korean consumption of Starbucks coffee is not only a simple or passive adoption of American consumption products but an active process of selecting and creating their own modes of consumption, and participating in constructing a "global modernity." But the "globality" that is put together and constructed in an American way, as is the case with starbucks, is already quite familiar and powerful for many Koreans.
Keywords: coffee, consumption, identity, South Korea, globalization, Starbucks
Types: Articles
Subject: Anthropology
About the author(s) Bak Sangmee (Bak, Sang-mi) is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Her publications include "McDonald`s in Seoul: Food Choices, Identity, and Nationalism" (1997). E-mail: