Korean Food : Korea Military Army Food, Hardtack. Geonbbang.

I wanted to eat these tiny star candies.

When I was a elementary school student, I used to buy a pack of geonbbang at the store. I liked that small embossing cracker with two holes. I sometimes kept it inside my mouth for a longer time, so it was soaked with water and got melted. Or I just cracked it with my teeth enjoying its rough texture inner side.    

hardtack geonbbang
It is how it looks. a cute hexahedron with two holes.

Geonbbang was cheap with its good quantity and I could share it with my elder sister. But it sometimes put us in the competition. We didn't compete for getting more pieces, we did it for having a small plastic pack inside, that includes tiny star candies. It’s a little thing to give a bit of taste to the cracker.

But when we governed one package by two of us, we transformed to a gladiator who was poised to fight for those tiny stars. The moment one grabbed the plastic pack, the war began. If it is my sister, she often ran away from me to have treasure all by herself. Then, I was the one who angrily chased her to get my portion.

Finally, she got caught. I am not sure whether she just let me catch or I was fast enough to get her. Anyway, then we decided how to divide those star shaped jewels. We mostly portion it half to each fairly. The war ended, and it was time to enjoy our feast with those twinkle stars

I was so greedy about those somewhat trifling candies. I was so angry at her when I couldn't obtain a half of it. Without them, I felt like I ate something soulless. I think at that time those candies might’ve had magical power that makes me fight for it as Helene has had done at troy.

hardtack geonbbang

hardtack geonbbang

What is Geonbbang exactly?

To Briefly Explain, it is a korean version of hardtack. A simple type of cracker or biscuit made from flour, water and salt. A sort of military ration that is cheap and long lasting.
Hardtack is normally infamous for its extreme hardness with scarce moisture so that it can last long without going bad. Sometimes it was too hard that soldiers cannot break it with their teeth, so they usually softened it dunked into coffee or tea.


Korean hardtack called ‘Geonbbang’ is different in texture. Historically dating back,  Geonbbang was invented by Japanese army. Japan wanted to secure their food supply with long-lasting food during long sea voyages and military journey at Pacific war. Through years, they developed this shape of hardtack having imitated portugal biscuit. Japanese uniquely added star candies into hardtack. Later, it was spreaded to Korean army and became a vital military food in Korea.

Korean Snack For Citizen?

Interestingly, hardtack is highly sold in Korean supermarket. In the past, there were just few snack to eat, so they had no choice but to eat flour based cracker to fill their empty stomach.

Now, with abundance of food, people eat them to recall their memories at army. Almost Korean males are forced to do the military service in Korea, it means most men ate hardtack(geonbbang) at least once at their hardest time of the life. That is unforgettable for them and they continue to buy packs of it.

hardtack geonbbang

I was never a soldier, not even nearing the troop. Why did I indulge in those stars? As I said above, star candies might have had magic power.

And it is still my Helene.


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Posted by Food Storyist

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