Danielle Krull currently resides in Wellsburg, Iowa as a freelance writer while also working as a server and caterer to save for her yearlong trip around the world. She loves learning about food and culture and hopes to continue writing about both subjects. In her spare time, she is always trying to find the perfect recipe to make the perfect dumpling, reading, listening to podcasts, or traveling.
It was the first week of Christmas break in 2010. I was halfway through my final year of college and had picked up extra shifts at my part-time job at Panda Express. Walking across campus, exhausted from work and carrying my groceries, I ran into my friend Taka, an international student.
Just like the aggressive profile one gets from the heat of the chili peppers or the funkiness from the fermented soybeans with a sweetness that comes at the end of every taste of gochujang, one can find parallels in the Korean diaspora and the flavor profiles that come with it. One serving of rice provides a taste of comfort, but also highlights the Han — the bitter notes of emotional pain, injustice, and a sense of incompleteness — and the Jeong — the bright notes of hope, love, loyalty, compassion, and emotional attachment.