An empty table turns into a work of art in just two hours through the hands of Jun Hyun-jung (’92, Social Studies Education). Tablecloth, dishes, cutlery and the food that goes with the table create harmony. This is what food coordination is about – making perfect concord in dining space for the owner of the table.
Although it started from a simple interest, Jun’s initial curiosities have transformed her into a well-known food coordinator.
“I had a vague plan in my mind that one day I would start studying again,” Jun said. “But it was pure interest in housework that led me to study food coordination."
Food coordination, the study of food culture and industry, is practically an unknown field for most people in Korea. Jun says it is rather a rising field at the moment, along with the development of the food service industry.
“Food coordination study is the result of people’s growing interest in living well,” Jun said. “Previously, people were only interested in merely eating itself, but now they are more concerned about their dietary environment.”
Jun directed a number of dining spaces at major events in Korea, including the former First Lady Kim Yun-ok’s tea party in the Globalization of Korean Food Forum, the Deoksugung traditional food festival, Home-Deco Expo 2013 and Haeng-nam Chinaware exhibition. She was also awarded at the Tokyo Tableware Festival in 2004, which highlighted her career in food coordination.
“The theme of my table at the Tokyo festival was ‘If Leonardo da Vinci were invited to a dinner table in the Chosun dynasty,’” Jun said. “I tried to relate to ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci and tried to imagine what it would have been like if he had designed his own food space in the Chosun dynasty.”
Jun recalled that her knowledge in history from college helped her think of such a creative theme.
“Majoring in Social Studies Education in college and Korean History in graduate school seems to be the origin of my ideas,” Jun said. “Whenever I run out of fresh ideas, I try to relate my table settings to interesting events in history.”
A thoughtful consideration for the person who sits in front of the table is the most important factor of food coordination.
“If possible, I try to gather as much information as possible about the protagonist of my table,” Jun said. “Basic characteristics such as her age, gender, hobby and taste gather up to form an ideal table coordination.”
Jun claims that just as she draws inspiration from the knowledge she accumulated during college, there is no unworthy information students learn in their years in university. She also feels pity toward students who are impatient or eager about employment after graduation.
“I never thought I would be able to make use of my knowledge I learned in school in the future,” Jun said. “However, the refinement I gained from college becomes incorporated into my creations now and then. Finding something your heart beats for is the most important mission of life. If you patiently pursue what you are truly interested in, success will follow.”