Accepted Paper:

The history of whale use in Korea  


Sunae Lee (Miyazaki Municipal University)

Paper short abstract:

This study presents the history of whale use through whale food culture in the Korean East Coast area.

Paper long abstract:

The whale use history in Korea is from approximately 5,000 years ago. However, it is from the end of 19th century that whaling activity was carried out positively in the Korean Peninsula. The people of the Korean East Coast area eat whale meat under the influence now, and food culture related to whale dishes is maintained. France, Germany, United States, Russia, and Japan captured the whales at the Korean Peninsula coast from the mid-19th century, and, Koreans had actively engaged in whaling for about 40 years from the end of World War II to the ban on commercial whaling in 1986. Since 1986 when commercial whaling was banned, Korean people have eaten such whales as to be caught accidentally in fishing nets. Whales caught in fishing nets numbered 190 in 2000, while the number has grown to 751 in 2008. Approximately 30% of the whales caught in fishing nets are made up of Minke Whales, whereas dolphins occupy 70%. The demand for whale meat is much greater compared to the supply, and a whale is priced at several million dollars to ten million dollars according to the size, so that it is called lottery of the sea. This study aims at analyzing whaling culture in Korea from a historical point of view, thus showing that whaling culture is to integrate local people and help supporting the identity of their community.

Panel P003
Anthropology of whaling issues: the present and future of whaling cultures (NME panel)