Thanks for dropping by Bburi Kitchen!

We started this project to explore and share local, seasonal Korean ingredients with the world.

“Bburi” means root—we love Korean food, and wanted to get to the roots of Korean cuisine. It all started when Seoyoung called up Sonja in December 2014 with an idea. Three years later, Seoyoung is still in Seoul while Sonja is mostly based in the U.S., but we’re still traveling, learning and eating. 🙂

Through this website, we share what we learn with you while we travel, talk to farmers, fishers and vendors, and research the history of ingredients. We also share recipes so you can try things out at home. We both take the photos, with a little help from friends. 🙂

Seoyoung is available for private cooking classes and consulting in Seoul.

Contact mail@bburikitchen.com for more information.

Why local, seasonal ingredients?

Korean cuisine has a history as long as its people. Since times were often hard, our ancestors had to get creative to eke nutrition and flavor from the roots and greens they foraged. They developed seasonal fermentation techniques to keep food through long winters. They took advantage of the surrounding oceans, rich with fish and seaweed and shellfish. The story of Korean food is the story of our geography and history and people.

Like a growing number of others here in Korea, we’re uncomfortable with some of the changes in the Korean diet over the last 60 years. Some of those changes come from a legacy of 20th century war and colonization. Other changes, like a spike in sugar consumption, are problems that all modernizing cultures face. This 50-year study by National Geographic shows that the percentage of calories from sugar and fat grew most in South Korea of all Asian countries—more surprisingly, the South Korean diet has grown more similar to the world average than that of any other Asian country.

But we were even more surprised when we realized there were so many local fruits, vegetables and seafoods that we’d never even heard of. So here we are, after prepping for 6 months and quitting two day jobs (sorry umma!), on a journey to discover the roots of our native food culture and share what we learn with you!


Seoyoung Jung

Seoyoung has enjoyed cooking and feeding her friends since she was nine and hasn’t stopped. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 2008, she apprenticed at Michelin star restaurants in NYC, returning to her homeland in 2011 to work as an R&D chef and build up her knowledge of Korea’s ingredients, recipes and food culture. She lives in Seoul and continues to study and learn about her Korean heritage.

Sonja Swanson

Sonja came to Korea to learn about her cultural heritage—and a one-year stay became a seven-year journey. She’s still in love with the language, culture and, of course, food. Sonja studied urban studies, French and education, then worked in corporate advertising in Seoul before quitting her job to write. She was an editor at Time Out Seoul and has bylines in Civil Eats, Esquire and Food52.


Questions? Want to collaborate? Send us cat pictures?

mail 앳 bburikitchen.com

Special thanks to

We couldn’t have started bburi kitchen without the help of many dear friends.


First, creative soul and dear friend Jacqui Gabel, who was originally slated to start this project with us but was called home for grad school. You can read her beautiful stories about food and life at Something for Sunday.


Next, our all-around handy friend Sunghoon Cho, who set up the hosting, email addresses and more for this site. He’s also accompanied us on several trips and his gorgeous photos grace the site here and there. View his portfolio here and follow him on Instagram, too.


bburi kitchen wouldn’t look nearly as good without the wisdom, creativity and patience of our designer, Jiyun Avery Ju, co-founder of Mutehouse. She’s guided us through the process of branding bburi, coming up with our themes, fonts, logo and more. You can see what she’s up to on Instagram.


Our first foray into video content was headed up by filmmaker Sam Kiehoon Lee, founder of Sangsu Pictures and a great believer in our ability to get through a full day of shooting even when we were ready to give up. You can see the results of that day and Sam’s beautiful editing work here.


Also many thanks to the friends and family who have given us feedback and encouragement: Jongmin Jung, Heerak Chang, Junwon Chang, Jongcheol Jung, Mirinae Suh, Youngmin Jung, Seop Kim, Chunhee Lee, Jooyoung Baek, Eunjeong Huh, Kyobo Shin, Sunghee Jeon, Loren and Hedian Swanson, Gichang Cho, Samsun Lee, Yaeri Song, Violet Kim, Youngjoo Lee, Jake Kwon and Alice Rhee.


Much love and many thanks,

Seoyoung & Sonja

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