Koreans traditionally eat tteokguk or rice cake soup on Lunar New Year's Day, the equivalent perhaps of the Anglophone countries' Christmas turkey.
"Eat tteokguk to get one year older," children are told in the old saying, but when older people eat tteokguk they know that another year has flown by.
It is not clear when the tradition began. But according to "Dongguksesigi," a Chosun-era almanac of seasonal customs, people wanted to start the New Year and celebrate the new birth of all creations by eating white food.
An alternative was manduguk or dumpling soup, which was more widespread in the north, where there is less rice farming, while tteokguk was more common in the south.
People in Pyongan and Hwanghae provinces in what is now North Korea and in Gangwon Province still eat manduguk more than tteokguk.
Each region has a different recipe for tteokguk or manduguk depending on ingredients and climates, though the standard version includes oval sliced rice cakes.