Various hangwa
Place of originKorea
Associated cuisineKorean cuisine
Korean name
Revised Romanizationhangwa
Revised Romanizationjogwa
Revised Romanizationgwajeong-ryu

Hangwa (Korean한과; Hanja韓菓) is a general term for traditional Korean confections.[1] With tteok (rice cakes), hangwa forms the sweet food category in Korean cuisine.[2] Common ingredients of hangwa include grain flour, fruits and roots, sweet ingredients such as honey and yeot, and spices such as cinnamon and ginger.[3]


Hangwa (한과; 韓菓) translates to "Korean confectionery" referring to traditional confections contrasting with yanggwa (양과; 洋菓), which identifies "Western confectionery".[4] In the past hangwa was called jogwa (조과; 造果) which means "artificial fruit" or gwajeongnyu (과정류; 果飣類) as meaning "fruit food category".[3][5]


The history of hangwa goes back to the era of the three kingdoms (57 BCE ‒ 668 CE), when various types of confections were consumed by royals during festivities, national holidays or in court, according to the Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms.[6][7][8]

Following the two Buddhist dynasties, Unified Silla in the era of two kingdoms (698–926) and Goryeo (936‒1392), the cultivation of crops and consumption of confections increased drastically as the Buddhist diets forbade meat.[6] Confections were offered in Goryeo's national feasts, rites, ceremonies, and banquets, including the two Buddhist festivals, the Lotus Lantern Festival and the Festival of the Eight Vows. Prevailing tea ceremonies also required more types of confections.

Concerns regarding the increasingly excessive consumption of confections that have large amounts of oil, grain, and honey have consequently lead to several regulations throughout the course of its history.[6] In 1117, King Sukjong restricted the extravagant usage of deep-fried grain confections. In 1192, deep-fried grain confections were mandated to be replaced with fruits and in 1353, a total ban on deep-fried grain confections was issued.

Restrictions continued in the Joseon (1392‒1897), according to Comprehensive Collection of the National Codes that recorded that the use of deep-fried grain confections was restricted solely for rites, weddings, and toasts to longevity.[6] Commoners caught eating them on occasions other than that were subjected to monetary fines or corporal punishment.[6]


Hangwa can be classified into eight main categories, namely dasik (tea food), gwapyeon (fruit jelly), jeonggwa (fruit jerky), suksil-gwa, yeot-gangjeong, yugwa, yumil-gwa, and candies.[9]

Other hangwa varieties include:


Traditionally, hangwa was offered during jesa (ancestral rites), chuseok (harvest festival), geolhonshik (weddings) or hwanggap (sixtieth-birthday) celebrations.[12] Today hangwa can be purchased online, in markets, coffee shops or at tea houses.[6]

Modern times

In the 1900s, hangwa began to fall out of favor with the introduction of sugar and western confection.[5] In recent years, it has seen a revitalization and is associated with holiday food. With the rising demand for hangwa, this market has seen increased support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery.[13] Today, it is offered as ceremonial food and is often gifted especially during seollal (Korean New Years). As society has sought healthier alternatives in consumable goods, efforts to produce confections to stimulate wellness began. Healthier hangwa was created by adding ginseng, green tea, and laver.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Doo, Rumy (7 July 2017). "[Weekender] Extravagant desserts, once banned, return to spotlight". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  2. ^ Koehler, Robert (February 2017). "Korea's Sweet Tooth: People love their desserts, both traditional and exotic". KOREA, issuu.com. Korean Culture and Information Service. p. 6. Retrieved 5 August 2017 – via issuu.
  3. ^ a b "Hangwa". Hangaone. Hangwa Culture Museum. Retrieved 11 January 2017.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Hangwa-ryu" 한과류. Doopedia (in Korean). Doosan Corporation. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Hansik, Korean Food and Drinks".
  6. ^ a b c d e f Noh, Hyun-gi (19 January 2012). "Art and history of 'hangwa'". The Korea Times. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  7. ^ Iryeon (1281). Samguk yusa 삼국유사(三國遺事) [Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms] (in Literary Chinese). Goryeo Korea.
  8. ^ "Royal Cuisine". english.visitkorea.or.kr. Retrieved 2021-11-30.
  9. ^ Kwon, Yong-Seok; Kim, Young; Kim, Yang-Suk; Choe, Jeong-Sook; Lee, Jin-Young (2012). "An Exploratory Study on Kwa-Jung-ryu of Head Families". Journal of the Korean Society of Food Culture (in Korean). 27 (6): 588–597. doi:10.7318/kjfc/2012.27.6.588.
  10. ^ a b "Enjoy Korean royal desserts at Kohojae". The Korea Times. 2020-11-26. Retrieved 2021-11-30.
  11. ^ "숙실과". Doopedia (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-11-30.
  12. ^ "10 Secrets About Korean Thanksgiving Food". Chuseok.org. 7 March 2022.
  13. ^ a b Kwock, Chang Geun; Lee, Min A; Park, So Hyun (March 2012). "Consumption Patterns and Perception Analyses of Hangwa". Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. 17 (1): 71–77. doi:10.3746/pnf.2012.17.1.071. ISSN 2287-1098. PMC 3866761. PMID 24471065.