Deciding to eat budae-jjigae, translated would be sausage stew, for dinner, you head to the nearest supermarket to purchase the necessary ingredients: ham, pork, dried red pepper, and onion. Suddenly you wonder ‘What special ingredients could I add to make it even more tasty?’ You consider leveling up its spiciness by adding Kimchi or adding a zesty tang by adding cheese. After much undecided thought, you decide to ask your friends for their opinions. One friend replies to your text message that she is also considering cooking budae-jjigae that evening but without some ingredients like pork or beef in the fridge, she will make it a clearer broth and add ramen.
Of me, by me, for me
In 21st century, some people are using a variety of ingredients to create variations of traditional budae-jjigae. People who deviate from standardized recipes and transform recipes into tastes that suit their own palates are called the ‘Naecipe Tribe’. Naecipe is a coined expression from the word ‘nae’ meaning ‘my’ and the last part of recipe, ‘cipe’. Together with tribe, naecipe refers to people who create recipes. In modern days, choice depends on financial ability and/or preference, and it is influencing food making as well. The Naecipe Tribe got its beginnings from the Home Tribe—people who enjoy hobbies and leisure activities in their homes and not outside. For instance, Home Tribe members watch movies, cook, and exercise at home. According to a 2018 survey by Job Korea and Albamon, about 60% of all respondents said they considered themselves members of Home Tribe. At home, they enjoy a rest and watch movies and dramas. Because they are doing these activities at home, they operate their own home cafes and enjoy coffee at home.1) From the simple home-based coffee-making, the Naecipe Tribe has developed.
Youtuber ‘EJ recipe’, who showcases a variety of modified recipes including coffees and side dishes, had 310,000 subscribers as of July 25, 2019. She also had 33 million views from her 500 uploaded videos. This one example highlights the attractiveness and popularity of the Naecipe Tribe. Like the Youtuber, naecipe culture is also in full bloom at Sookmyung Women’s University. On the school community site, students share their own personalized recipes. One Sookmyungian who wishes to remain anonymous, uploaded a dumpling recipe for Sookmyungians who don’t like to cook. She said, “I often cook at home because I am not living with my family. Most people will only warm frozen dumplings in the microwave to eat, but I uploaded a recipe onto the community site that adds a bit of taste to the dumplings. It’s a recipe for a special sauce, which tastes like the type of sauce I used to eat when I was young. To share my love of the sauce with Sookmyungians, I uploaded the recipe. I’m happy to read comments like, “the recipe was delicious” and “thanks for sharing the recipe.” Like this, naecipe culture is growing at Sookmyung.
You may not consider yourself part of the Naecipe Tribe, but if you have ever shared a recipe or gotten one from someone, you are likely part of the Tribe. A survey of adults found that 75.4% will become part of the Home Tribe in the future.2) This increase is surely to lead to an increase in the Naecipe Tribe. The term Naecipe Tribe first appeared in 2018 and has gradually become more common in everyday conversations. Its spread is the result of the development of the Internet, which allows people everywhere to share their own recipes. In the past, people used to have to buy cookbooks to get recipes, but now most people use the Internet. An anonymous student at Sookmyung Women's University said, "I have to cook at home, but I have a hard time because I hardly know any recipes, so I get help from the Internet. I don't cook enough to warrant buying a cookbook, so I seek recipes online whenever I cook." Like this student, many people are pleased that they can easily get a recipe online whenever they need one. As of July 25, 2019, the website “10,000 Recipes” lists about 120,000 recipes, and has roughly 5.14 million visitors a month. It also has 850,000 followers on its Facebook page and one million followers on Instagram. However, according to Naver Shopping, the number of purchases of the bestselling cookbook ‘Mother’s Touch: Korean Side Dish’ didn’t exceed 1,000. In other words, people tend to search for recipes on Internet sites rather than buying books.
Another reason for the increase in the membership to the Naecipe Tribe is the difficulty of single-person households. It is not easy for people living alone to eat. According to a 2017 survey by KB Financial Group's Management Research Institute, meals were the fourth-highest worries among single households (28.3 percent).3) In other words, single people have a hard time at meal times deciding what to eat or cook. Lee Subin, a Department of English Education student at Kangwon National University, said, "I recently ate alone at a meat restaurant. I felt I was watched, proving that eating meat alone at a restaurant is still not the mainstream. During the meal, I felt a lot of discomfort. It was hard to roast and eat the meat at the same time before it burnt, but the biggest problem was that everyone was staring at me. The owner looked me like I was an odd person for coming to meat restaurant alone.” This shows that sometimes it is difficult to eat out alone. Also, although the food delivery culture is well-established, the size of the orders required before they would deliver is too much for one to eat alone. A SMT reporter viewed 30 Korean eateries near Sookmyung Women's University on the Baemin application and found that at 17 restaurants, price of one dish did not meet the minimum for delivery. Only at 13 restaurants did the price of one menu item exceeds the minimum amount for delivery, but the menu item was large enough for 2-3 persons. As this search shows, single people have difficulty with meals.
The flood tide of Naecipe
Many people sympathetic to the development of the Internet and the difficulty of eating alone naturally became Naecipe Tribe members. With the increase in single-person households, there has been an increase in products for them, and now there is increased marketing for the Naecipe Tribe. Dole Korea has begun selling small fruity pouches made with a various type of fruit. The product was created because of an increase in the Home Tribe and home-baking people. Through SNS, Dole Korea introduces recipes that can utilize products. Binggrae has also uploaded a video-clip on how to enjoy banana-flavored milk on May 19, 2019 with advertising model Baek Jong-won. Banana-flavored milk stimulates the Naecipe Tribe and members have uploaded various videos that use banana-flavored milk to make lattes, pancakes, puddings, and shakes. Binggrae also held an event titled "How to Enjoy My Own Banana-flavored Milk" to promote participation in Naecipe Tribe. Like Binggrae, businesses are not only sharing recipes, but also holding recipe contests to encourage consumers to become part of the Naecipe Tribe. Namyang Dairy Products held a promotional event for its cheese products. It was called '3rd floor cheese' and it stimulated great interest among participants. The hashtag '#3rd_floor_cheese_recipe', which was required to participate was added to more than 500 Instagram posts as of July 25, 2019. These are just a couple of examples where food and beverage companies use targeting strategies to increase membership in the Naecipe Tribe.
The emergence of the Naecipe Tribe has also prompted a change in food programs on TV. Although Korea has a long running cooking channel called OLIVE, nowadays, more and more cooking programs and channels are appearing. Even if the food program centers on the same food, the patterns of the programs are changing. In the past, most programs aired people eating food such as <Gourmet Road> and <The Tasty Guys>. These programs routinely have celebrities visit various restaurants and eat delicious food. The purpose of these programs is to increase peoples’ desire to eat those food, but more recent programs are more diverse. With more and more people looking for recipes on TV, programs are starting to show recipes through their platforms. For example, <Youn’s Kitchen> or <4 Wheeled Restaurant> show celebrities or chefs working abroad and the recipes they use. Also, programs such as <House Cook Master Paik> and <Mother’s Touch: Korean Side Dish> allow viewers to know recipes naturally as the other cast learns recipes from one person. The increase in variety of recipes on TV has inspired the Naecipe Tribe who makes modifications to the recipes they viewed at home.
Our recipe not my recipe
Banana milk and ice-cream from a convenience store can be combined to make a vanilla shake. If you have ever tried like this, you are part of the Naecipe Tribe. As internet recipes have replaced cookbooks with the modern generation, more and more people are becoming the Naecipe Tribe members. Taken together, they have prompted the development of Naecipe culture. Changes in the marketing in the food industry and types of food programs on TV aimed at the Naecipe Tribe show the development of environment for Naecipe Tribe. Such an environment has established the culture and become a stepping stone for more Naecipe Tribes. With the increase in recipes, the question of “what shall we eat?” will disappear gradually.
1) Job Korea X Albamon, “58% of Adults Consider Themselves Part of the Home Tribe and Healing at Home”, November 3, 2018
2) Same as 1
3) Ju Aejin, “‘Single life’ of Koreans in 2017”, Dong-A Ilbo, February 24, 2017