Tofu and Prisoners

The Story of Prison and Tofu
Did you know that when prisoners are released from a jail in South Korea, they are always given fresh tofu to eat at the prison gates by their families?

I found the reason for this is the blog of a Korean Prisoner Officer.

When Korea was ruled as an oppressed colony by Japan between 1910-1945, many Korean intellectuals and scholars were sent to political prison camps by the Japanese authorities.  Whilst in prison, some of the political prisoners went on hunger strike and in any case other criminal prisoners often did not get even a basic food allowance.

So prisoners were famished upon their release and their poor metabolism meant that there was a severe danger of death through overindulging in eating causing intestinal problems and choking and many died. You can read more here.

People understood that tofu was the best food in this case because it provided protein and soft tofu could suppress the released prisoners’ ravenous appetites and left them feeling satisfied. Most of all, it was made in most homes everywhere in Korea at that time. Additionally, tofu is white and white means purity, cleanliness and innocence. So a person coming out from a prison might consider living a purer live so that they do not return.

So even though prison food is very nutritious nowadays, this tradition continues. In any case even the law abiding may enjoy tofu so please enjoy tofu with your friends and family.

Try these two tofu dishes :

Deep fried Tofu in Spicy Sweet and Tangy Sauce

Tofu Jorim (Pan fried Tofu in Soy and Chilli Powder sauce)


3 Comments Add yours

  1. alcynism says:

    I am a college student and I specialize in Asian foreign affairs, so this article was an interesting reading from a cultural point of view. Thank you for having shared that story !

  2. Hello Emo says:

    Thanks and I hope your interest in culture extends to my delicious food too!

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