Kong Ju Korean Rice Cake | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar

Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

< Back to Oral History project: Houston’s Underbelly


Jina Kim

Kong Ju Korean Rice Cake

Jina Kim and her husband, Heesuck Ko, left Korea for Los Angeles, where they met a rice cake expert who convinced them to move to Houston and start a rice cake business. They opened Kong Ju Korean Rice Cake in Houston’s Spring Branch neighborhood in 2004. In 2009, the giant chain grocery store Super H Mart opened its doors.

Jina and her husband quickly set themselves apart by diversifying their business, offering a variety of rice cakes, as well as banchan, the myriad Korean-style side dishes; handmade dumplings, and catering services.

They were already familiar with Yeon Ok Lee’s kimchi when she became part of the business after her family’s grocery store closed and just as Kong Ju was establishing itself in the community. Jina sells sesame oil made in-house using seeds brought in by Chris Shepherd, who also uses the oil at Underbelly.

Jina’s interview is fully translated.

Go here for the translation of her audio slideshow.

Date of interview:

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

Download Transcript Download Transcript 2



The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

Let’s Stay in Touch

Sign up for the SFA newsletter to have the latest content
delivered directly to your inbox.