Bibimbap was recorded as goldongban. Its existence came into being early on as its name as goldongban was confirmed through records relating to figures during the reign of King Sejo (1455-1468), the early period of the Joseon Dynasty. Literature which refers to bibimbap in Hangul is the Siuijeonseo written at the end of the 1800s. In this work, bibimbap is recorded as bubimbap and goldongban. The “gol” in goldongban means to mix, “dong” means to keep. “Goldong” means to mix together various objects. Thus, goldongban means a dish that mixes together various relishes with already cooked rice.
Change in the name of bibimbap
Goldongjiban : During the reign of King Sunjo, the 23rd king of the Joseon Dynasty, the term goldongban appears in Dongjidal volume of Dongguksaesigi (1849) written by Hong Seok Mo.
Bubimbap : Written by an unknown author, the manuscript, Siuijeonseo (end of the 1800s), one of the most representative food literature of noble families, refers to bubimbap. The Sino-Korean word “gol” means dizzy, “dong” means bibimbap. “Goldong” means to mix together various objects. In the Joseon Yori-Jebeop written by Bang Sin Young, it is written as bubimbap. Since its first publication in 1917, this book has been expanded and reprinted to over nine editions in 1939.
Bibimbap : Today, the term bibimbap is used. In terms of literature, the name of bibimbap has changed many times. However, there is not much difference in its meaning to mix together various relishes with rice. Ingredients used in bibimbap have significantly changed during the 100 year period between the 1800s and the 1900s. During such 100 year period, not only did the production of food ingredients increase, it is believed that it is not entirely inaccurate to consider that the Korean food culture was completed during that period. Yet, there are a few differing claims as to the origin of bibimbap.
Several theories on the origin of bibimbap
1. Royal Court Food
In the sura, which is referred to as the King’s meal during the Joseon Dynasty, there are four different
Types which are the white sura, red sura, five grains sura and bibim. It is viewed that bibimbap was the King’s meal for lunch or when the royal family went to the royal court.
2. Ceremonial Food
It is viewed that bibimbap originated from the ceremony of sin-in gongsik whereby food arranged at various ancestral rites and ceremonies, which took place in the traditional society, were shared with ancestral spirits.
3. Farming Season Food
During the farming season, meals were served many times during the day. It is viewed that bibimbap originated from mixing various dishes in one bowl as it was difficult to setup a well-prepared table for each meal and bring sufficient number of plates.
origin of bibimbap as a farming season food is well described in Choi Seung Beom’s Lanrokgi
It is natural for food from Jeolla-do where the mountains and the sea are evenly placed, are gathered from three places where food are to be found. During the farming season, when the farmer’s wife carries the cooked rice out to the fields, how is it possible for her to go out with all the dishes even if she uses a hamper or basket. So, a way was conceived by putting rice in a bowl like a large pottery bowl and placing various dishes on top one by one with a bowl of red pepper paste. When she would go out to the field carrying the bowl with a spoon, it was easy for her to cross the ditch and furrows of the rice field. With the out door table set up on the embankment around the field under the skies, it was bibimbap and it is praised as a rationalized menu.”
This is the part where it is found that the Jeonju bibimbap originates from the farming society
4. Food for New Year’s Eve of the lunar year
As a way to welcome the New Year’s Eve of the lunar year, it is viewed that left over vegetables and rice were mixed together and served to get rid of left over food from the past year