Popularizing Korean food

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From the Korea Herald on 2007.11.14:

The Korean Food Workshop will kick off its four-day run in Seoul on Friday, showing off traditional Korean dishes and their culinary splendors to international guests, the event organizer Korea Foundation said yesterday.

“Korean food is getting more exposure in overseas markets, but it has yet to establish its own brand,” said Yong Eun-jin, an official of the Korea Foundation, which is in charge of the workshop.

The workshop has invited 12 food critics and journalists from seven countries. They include Margaret Dickenson, who hosts “Margaret’s Sense of Occasion,” a food program on a Canadian television network, and Catherine Baschet, who is in charge of Le Cordon Bleu promotions and festivals. The workshop will include lectures, demonstrations, cooking classes and panel discussions about Korean food.

Korea’s food culture recently got a publicity boost from the popularity throughout Asia of “Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace),” a television drama series produced by MBC. But the predominant perception of Korean food is limited to an assortment of individual foods such as kimchi, bulgogi and bibimbap, failing to create a truly recognizable brand identity.

On Friday, the guests will visit the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine in Jongno, Seoul, to learn about the Korean royal food culture. Han Bok-ryeo, president of the prestigious food culture institute, will give a special lecture, followed by a cooking demonstration, tasting and practice session.

From 2 p.m. on Saturday at Yonsei University in western Seoul, the guests will join a conference to examine how foreign observers perceive Korean food. Keynote speakers include freelance journalist Peter Hyun, former New York Times editor Gwin Joh Chin and Culinary Institute of America professor John Nihoff. Local food experts also participate in the conference to share latest trends regarding Korean food culture outside of Korea.

The workshop also has special events that allow guests to experience traditional Korean wine at the Wine Museum in Jeonju and learn how green tea is made in the famous tea-producing region of Boseong.

A recent survey of foreign travelers and residents in the country show that Korean food has the potential to become globally ubiquitous, but it has fallen short of achieving this, partly because of the lack of proper administrative and PR support.

The survey also said that the respondents consider the cleanliness and ambience of Korean restaurants a key factor in Korean food becoming more popular in overseas markets.

By Yang Sung-jin


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