Cooking Bogam

Cooking Bogam is a website/web-app that tells about food remedies with proven efficacy in the prevention of diseases and control of symptoms based on Traditional Korean Medicine.

It introduces what foods are good for particular health, their efficacy, how to cook them, and information about ordering ingredients that people might not be familiar with. Users can find all of the information by selecting each symptom/cooking video/food recommendation in the ‘Food of the week’ section. They can also get a sense of the deep history of Dongui Bogam on the website. The target audience is women in their late 30s to 40s who have an interest in healthy eating habits/diets, and Asian culture, as well as people who have health concerns and want to discover new meals to cook at home. In the West, modern diseases and cancers are caused by unhealthy eating habits, and many dietary supplements are being used to replace the nutrients of whole foods such as vitamins, minerals and fiber in order to alleviate a nutritional imbalance. However, they cannot replace all of the nutrients, and it is better to eat natural foods than to take pills. In Korea, there is a theory and philosophy of ‘prevention before treatment’, which means preventing diseases with foods that can be used as medicine. Based on the theory, Cooking Bogam provides vital information for developing a healthy dietary lifestyle easily. Its cooking methods are simple and ingredients are available anywhere in market. It built as a responsive website that can be accessible anywhere at anytime, on a smartphone, tablet, or computer with internet access. This website is visually focused with a playful design, and combines a sense of ancient time and modernity. It delivers the value of food remedies and a healthy Korean diet into daily life around the world.

Thesis production website: (Work in progress)

Selected for NYC Media Lab’s Annual Summit 2016

PROCESS (January ~ May 2016)


In the modern society, the rates of people suffering from chronic diseases are higher than before. Most modern diseases such as digestive diseases, diabetes, and cancers are caused by unhealthy eating habits.

According to the McGovern Report issued by the US Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, over the past 40 years science has confirmed the fact that dietary diseases cannot be prevented or cured with medical interventions. It was pointed out that most modern diseases and cancers are caused by apathy to usual diet and wrong dietary life.

In Korea, foods are used to prevent and treat diseases, saying 'food is the best medicine’ since ancient times. There is a theory and philosophy of ‘prevention before treatment’, which means preventing diseases with foods that can be used as medicine.

I also was affected by my parents and culture, which always considered the connection between food and health. I grew up hearing to eat based on a healthy diet and eat this food because this is good for your this (bronchial tubes, anemia, etc). My grandfather and grandmother are now 78 and 70 years old respectively, but they are still keeping fit by finding the foods needed for maintaining their health based on the philosophy.


What do you think this food is good for? » Answers

I asked the question to the 20 international students from different countries (USA, Canada, Philippine, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, China).
The result was that many people didn't know about the foods that were used in Korea or the East, and most people didn't know anything about the good foods related to body parts (heart, lungs). There were few people who knew accurately about what common foods were good for.
Some people replied about the psychological effect or cooking rather than health. Other people asked back whether it was important to know these things, and another group of people were curious as to what these foods were good for. My project must target people who are at least interested in health or a healthy dietary life. 

The early goal for my thesis project:
Teaching westerners the relationship between food and health from Asian perspective of view based on the ancient Asian medical system by introducing local foods from different countries in Asia, which is good for health but many people don't know.

Notifying people about foods that are related to particular organs and good for or prevent a particular illness (high-blood pressure), based on the five viscera, the six entrails, and five-colored foods. (ex. White foods are related to the lungs, the large intestines, and the nose. It helps people with weak lungs or bronchial tubes. When sweet pumpkin is eaten as a porridge or steamed dish, it increases the gastrointestinal functions.) 

Early Project Abstract

Click to zoom for an image ↑ Journal of Ethnic Foods (p.82)

The first idea was making a web app that suggests dishes and recipes in a new way for people who are interested in eating healthy foods for their body from mid-20s to 40s. This app introduces foods and dishes that are good for internal organs from the Korean and Chinese medicine based on the Ying-Yang and Five-Elements Theory. According to the theory, there are the five viscera and the six entrails (heart, lungs, liver, stomach, eyes, bones, mouth, nose, etc), and five-colored foods, which are red, yellow, green, black, and white foods. It means the five different colored foods are associated with the functions of internal organs. For example, white foods (white radish, garlic) are related to the lungs, the large intestines, and the nose, and they help people with weak lungs or bronchial tubes. Users can choose foods by the color which is related to particular the function of body, and then they can get recipes and ingredients in the West that can be an alternative to the ingredients from Eastern Asia. This is a practical and valuable tool that gives information and knowledge of foods that contribute to their health, and it can be a bridge introducing the use of foods from Asia to the West.


Open this link on your smart phone:
(Click the "Liver (green)" icon --> Discover --> Crown daisy --> Image links)
Feedback from Thesis Professor Anezka: Focus on Korea / East Asia, Find a doctor who can work with me
Feedback from Classmates Geyao, Tammy, Dana
- Good idea & concept
- Showing the interesting The Five Elements diagram grabs me attention right away, which is good. (Interesting page - click more - see some of that foods that are associated with organs all from East Asian - Country should be the last thing)
- Need to think how to introduce food in different ways. (ex. show body conditions/illness first and then food, instead of the five elements system)
- It would be good for westerner who don’t know anything about this theory and Asian food.

Cathy is a thirty-seven-year-old office worker. She usually eats out because of her busy life. Her eating-out expenses are too much, and she recently suffered from food poisoning, so she has become cautious about what she eats and doesn’t know what she should eat. She wants to cook healthy and good food at least on the weekends, and she sometimes tries to pack lunches, but she doesn’t know what foods she should cook.

Jenny is a forty-six-year-old housewife with two children. She cooks every day for the health of her family. To instill her children with health dietary habits, she tries to make a variety of nutritious foods. She is constitutionally high in cholesterol, so she is always conscious as to what she eats. She has experience treating illness through diet, so she knows a lot about healthy food ingredients, but she wants to more about new healthy recipes in order to create more diverse menus.

Reviews of Thesis Prototypes at Science Fair
Split students into Reviewers and Presenters for each studio day
Date: February 16th and 18th, 2016 | Location: D12 and studio classrooms at Parsons

[PDF] Feedback from Louisa, Yu, Haotian, Miri, Luobin, Ike, Kai

Result from feedback
I received good feedback about my concept and other helpful feedback from them. Above all, I need to decide what the first page will show. - I need to think about a different way to introduce food. At the same time, it is important to put an eye-catching graphic on the first page that grabs peoples' attention and makes them curious.

I think there are 3 options. (Half of the users liked the first option, and the other half of them liked the second one.)
1. The Five Elements theory system
2. Informing foods according to common illnesses with slogan from Asian medical theory
3. Attracting attention with Korean food

1. Showing The Five Elements system

• The graphic is simple and interesting. It can inspire curiosity, grabs attention and fits on a small screen.
• It is easy to approach about information on ancient Asian medical theory, which is related to healthy foods.
• Users could misunderstand or fail to understand it. - It is not simple to explain a complex and unique Asian theory with the five elements system diagram.
• Foods are not all correct according to the five color table. Disease prevention with only the color of the food is a limited approach.

Interview with a doctor of Korean medicine
(I found two doctors of Korean medicine who can work with me for my thesis project, and researched from them.)
According to a doctor of Korean medicine, there is a basic table with the five viscera and the five colors but these are not all correct, and herbal medicine, which is the basis of drug composition, must be basically known. In this regard, medicinal foods (a connection of medicinal herbs and preventive treatment foods) must be the starting point.

Q. How would it be to recommend foods for disease prevention, not for the treatment of a particular disease, and separately writing a message that recommends a consultation with an expert for people who want to treat diseases with medicine along with an explanation on the basics of herbal medicine?

A. Although it’s good to show a message that recommends a consultation with an expert, the field of medicinal foods in Korea is usually dealt with in alternative medicine, and medical professionals focus on medicinal herbs and disease treatment prescriptions.
- Following a classification through the five color table is the most basic and is good for regular people to approach
- Medicinal herbs are categorized according to color, taste (bitter, salty, sweet, astringent), coldness, heat, warmth, and coolness. Therefore, it is not effective to approach disease prevention with only color.

* For instance, there are foods and drugs like Schisandra Chinensis(red) and Eoseongcho(green) which are used for the preventive treatment of asthma(lung diseases). However, considering only color, the lungs correspond to the color white, and because the exterior color differs, ordinary people will have a difficulty choosing medicinal foods or herbs with only color classifications, although they are more easily accessible.

Ike, one of the users at Science Fair, while using the system as it is, indicated a confusion as to whether she was looking for a food according to color or according to the color of the organ.

2. Informing foods according to common illnesses
Some users wanted to find a solution in accordance to a problem. For instance, they wanted to know foods that help illnesses such as indigestion, colds, and heart disease prevention.

3. Attracting attention with Korean food
First, show pictures of Korean food and introduce ingredients used in those foods. For instance, show bibimbap and then introduce the ingredients that are healthy but unfamiliar to Westerners.


Dongui Bogam is an encyclopedia medical book of traditional Korean medicine encompassing all knowledge on Eastern Asian medicine together by the royal physician, Heo Jun (1539 - 1615) and was first published in 1613 during the Joseon Dynasty of Korea.

  • Dongui Bogam is the best medicine book of the East Asia published in the 17th century. In terms of health care system, it developed the ideas of “preventive medicine” and “public health care by the state”.
  • It focuses on prevention, whereas other medical books of that period all emphasized treatment.
  • It is a practical medicine book. It contains tips for food materials available in the vicinity and convenient food prescription.
  • It demonstrates that usual foods can be great medicine, and all kinds of wild herbs used as medicinal grasses can become food ingredients.
  • It is an internationally used medical book. For the last 400 years, it was reprinted over 40 times and widely used in China, Japan, and Vietnam.
  • In 2009, Dongui Bogam was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register as the seventh Korean entry on the record.
  • It has helped shape Eastern medical culture across Asia and Korea’s Oriental medicine doctors still use the book as a reference.


Based on the research, user testing, and feedback from users, I created a new prototype using software Adobe Muse.
Open this link on your smart phone:
(Click "Diarrhea" --> Acorn(-starch) jello --> Image links)

  • Introduce food remedies approved by doctors of Korean Medicine for efficacy, in order to prevent diseases focused on symptoms facing daily life.
  • Recommend other recipes to help westerners experience a wide range of Korean foods which are beneficial for health.
  • Provide Korean healthy diets and ordering information.


> iPad
I started to build a responsive website using the code to make a web-app.


After user testing, I was trying to redesign wireframes and I made a quick prototype. One of ideas is showing the information about Dongui Bogam on the first page of the web-app because this is the major differentiated service of my web-app from others. I want to emphasize it and tell users what it is about and what sources it comes from. And I redesigned from selecting by symptom to recommending food ingredient with information about what it is good for. I was trying to think about the guide of my grandparents approach of food. They find or choose healthy food ingredient and tell me what it is good for, and then cook it for me. They repeats about the efficacy and benefit of food during meal time by suggesting me eating the healthy food.


Cooking Bogam: It contains everything in a healthy Korean diet, food remedies in Dongui Bogam, as well as recipes that can be created with healthy ingredients.

Where does the name "Cooking Bogam" come from?
  • Dongui Bogam: 'a treasured mirror that contains all the essentials of Eastern Medicine.'

  • ‘Dongui’: Eastern Medicine. (It means the geographical location of Korea and it is also translated to a declaration of independence of Korean medicine from the Chinese medicine.)
  • ‘Bogam’: a treasured mirror, which reflects everything clearly without hiding or leaving out anything.


    I bought all ingredients for the photo shoot and cooking. I took photos of food for the website and cooked everything to make cooking videos. Thankfully my friend helped me filming the videos.




    Technology: Html5, Css3, JavaScript, Bootstrap

    I will keep doing user testing and revising UI/UX designs for the better user experience. I will update cooking videos on the website once a week and keep running my blog/Cooking Bogam Instagram in order to form a healthy eating community. Furthermore, I will work with chefs and nutritionists to make cooking videos that use same ingredients with different recipes for foreigners who may not be familiar with Korean foods. Of course, I will provide links for diverse recipes on my website. Yet, working with professionals can earn more people’s trust. Not only that, it may be possible to introduce and recommend some herbal food that is considered alternative medicine. Once the content increases, I will implement the search box using PHP in order for users to find the materials and information quickly. Also, I will create a function that enables to save my favorite list so that managing a large number of contents can be much easier. I hope this website/web-app brings closer the value of Korean ingredients and food prescriptions in Dongui Bogam that were proven for their effects and efficacy in preventing diseases and controlling symptoms.

    2016 @Parsons The New School for Design