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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.

< Back to Oral History project: Houston’s Underbelly

ORAL HISTORY

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. Five years later 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:
2014-07-01

Interviewer:
Amy C. Evans

Photographer:
Amy C. Evans

Download Transcript Download Transcript 2

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