Japchae is one of the most comprehensive dishes in terms of variety of ingredients and a very popular dish on birthdays.
This is one of the best loved Korean noodle dishes by Koreans as well as by foreign visitors to Korea. The main ingredients are sweet potato noodles which are combined with a lot of different vegetables and meats. Japchae combines over 20 different vegetables with pheasant meat and was eaten by Korean kings and the royal family.
Korea was colonized by Japan between 1910 and 1945, Beginning in 1920, Korea underwent drastic changes under Japanese rule not only in politics but also culturally including food too. After 1920 Japchae, previously a dish for the upper classes, was commoditised and became available in restaurants dish using sweet potato noodles coming from China.
In 1592 Japan invaded Korea the war, we call Imjin Waelan, lasted for 6 years. When the war finished and Japan retreated, there was not enough food for the people also there was no palace left for the king. It was at this time that Japchae became very highly prized by the King.
There is a written record that two low class men, with power over many farmers collected all the ingredients and bribed the king with Japchae and then, the king knighted them. The other courtiers sarcastically called them the Japchae knights.
Speaking of which,
“Innocent if rich, guilty if poor”, is a well-known adage in Korea.
The Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics had been found guilty of bribing the former president, Park Geunhye. So, I guess bribery is still the route to power.