Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.b.6

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has nominated Pyongyang Raengmyon custom (No. 01695) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Pyongyang Raengmyon (cold noodles made primarily from buckwheat) is a customary social and cultural dish in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It is served in a brass bowl and topped with trimmings of meat, Kimchi, vegetables, fruits and garnish. Cool meat stock or watery radish Kimchi juice is poured over the noodle strips to finish the preparation. A traditional folk dish deeply rooted in the lives of Pyongyangites, it is associated with long life, happiness, hospitality, conviviality and friendliness, and is believed to foster respect, intimacy and unity. A day before Jongwoldaeborum (a Korean folk winter holiday), family members and neighbours gather to enjoy the noodles, hoping their life will be as long as the noodle strips. At celebrations such as birthdays and weddings, Pyongyangites serve the dish with blessings for relatives, neighbours and friends. It is customary to have some liquor beforehand. Today, the dish has spread beyond special occasions with the establishment of Pyongyang Raengmyon restaurants. Within families, grandmothers and mothers take pride in the transmission of the skills and knowledge to their children, regarding it as their moral obligation. The practice is also transmitted through work-study programmes and trainings in restaurants, cooking contests, festivals and exhibitions, as well as by the media and in educational institutes.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The element is a customary social and cultural practice related to cold noodles which are served on various occasions. The main bearers and practitioners are Pyongyangites. The practitioners also involve broad sections of people who cherish Pyongyang Raengmyon, as well as individuals who are involved in developing the culinary art and transmitting traditional knowledge concerning the element. The knowledge and skills are transmitted informally within families or at restaurants, and through formal education by the Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce, Pyongyang College of Cookery and other educational institutions. The element promotes a sense of cultural identity and continuity and contributes to social harmony and cohesion.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription could provide greater recognition of the significance and diversity of intangible cultural heritage embedded in occasions associated with the element, such as birthdays, weddings and folk holidays, thereby raising visibility of the element and of intangible cultural heritage in general. At the national level, inscription would generate more enthusiasm for identifying, inventorying and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage across the country. At the international level, inscription will raise awareness about how a traditional culinary art and social practice contained in a culture may contribute to cultural diversity and sustainable development, thereby enhancing the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general. Dialogue would be encouraged, as inscription would promote cooperation and collaboration between different communities, groups and individuals involved in the safeguarding of traditional culinary culture through international joint research, workshops and festivals, among others.

R.4:   The preparations for the nomination were carried out by a working group that included members from state departments, associations, restaurants, individual bearers and practitioners. The file explained the roles of the working group, such as organizing consultative meetings, traditional food exhibitions and activities to seek opinions and suggestions on the safeguarding measures and nomination. The representative bearers involved in the working group played leading roles in defining the element, identifying its social function and cultural meaning, proposing safeguarding measures and elaborating the nomination file, while reflecting opinions of the wide public. Before it was finalized, the draft version of the nomination file was posted online to encourage discussion and further revision. Letters of consent were obtained by the working group through field surveys and online channels from January 2019 to January 2021.

R.5:   The element was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage on 26 November 2013. The inventory is updated every five years and is maintained by the Department of Protection of National Heritage and the Korea National Heritage Preservation Agency, under the National Authority for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture. The inventorying of the element involved two working groups, and interviews with bearers and field surveys were conducted as part of the inventorying process.

  1. Further considers that, from the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State Party through the dialogue process, the nomination satisfies the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.3:   The past and current safeguarding efforts include the establishment of the Korea Culinary Association, transmitting the knowledge in families and neighbourhoods, providing workshops in restaurants, and conducting cultural, educational, and research activities. The State Party supports the safeguarding efforts through the construction of restaurants, supporting associations, strengthening the supply system of materials, improving quality standards, monitoring food security, and safeguarding through legal frameworks. The file presents various proposed safeguarding measures in the areas of: education and transmission, protection of rights, consolidation of the legal framework for sustainable development, identification, documentation, research, raising awareness, and dialogue. A series of meetings were held in 2019 to 2021 involving representatives from groups, (NGOs), restaurants, and agencies, which resulted in the proposed safeguarding measures and the distribution of tasks. Citizens from Pyongyang and the public across the country provided proposals either through representative individuals or during field investigation and online.

  1. Decides to inscribe Pyongyang Raengmyon custom on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Reminds the State Party of the importance of ensuring the widest possible participation of the communities concerned in planning and implementing safeguarding measures and in the inventorying process;
  3. Invites the State Party to ensure that safeguarding measures adequately address the potential negative impact of over-commercialization of the element, keeping in mind that all safeguarding measures should be aimed at enhancing the diversity and viability of the element;
  4. Further invites the State Party to take appropriate measures to ensure that the application of a standard procedure does not restrict or stifle human creativity;
  5. Encourages the State Party, when submitting future nomination files, to provide more detailed explanations on the social functions and cultural meanings concerning the element, instead of focusing on the descriptions of the associated items or products.