Korea’s current attitude towards globalizing Korean cuisine mostly focuses on being the talk of the town. Instead of promoting the proprieties of the food itself, such as the taste or healthiness, the main strategy is just to be the hot topic of the day. Korea’s food globalization plan in its current form can be categorized into three patterns : celebrity marketing, experimenting with Kimchi, and hosting Korean food festivals. During former president Lee Myung Bak’s administration, the government paid several Hollywood actresses such as Brook Shields 350 million won ( 30 million dollars) each to be seen by the paparazzi picking out Korean food while grocery shopping . @@ Later, the Korean government used the photographs to falsely report how these famous actresses enjoy cooking Korean food. Not only is this false advertising, blatantly going on about how celebrities enjoy a certain food is not enough to persuade others to enjoy it , especially when there is little mention about the food itself.
False celebrity reports aside, a major problem of Korea’s current strategy is its obsession with eccentric Kimchi products. Kimchi is a salty, peppery-hot cabbage fermented over time. Depending on the region, some people add pickled seafood or even raw fish to add flavor. Unfortunately, many have chosen to experiment with Kimchi by creating ludicrous dishes such as Kimchi flavored chocolate and Kimchi cocktails @@ . Not only are the execution of these dishes unappealing, the taste of sweet chocolate and liquor do not clash well with the taste of Kimchi. Such experiments certainly do attract interest but not in the way intended. Photographs of Kimchi chocolates and cocktails often appear on foreign humor community websites and most of the comments are far from positive @@ . Blindly focusing on shocking ways to advertise Kimchi has turned it to a laughing stock rather than urging people to try it.
Currently, there are a lot of Korean food festivals of various scales promoting Korean food. Most of these festivals have a thing in common ; giant sized versions of Korean food. Whether it be Bibimbab (rice mixed with various vegetables), Japchae ( stir fried noodles), or Naeng Myeon ( cold buckwheat noodles), such festivals mostly end with people serving food out of a enormous plate of food and serving it to foreigners, most of them who have seen Korean food for the very first time. When it comes to selling food, the execution of the food is almost as important as the taste. An enormous plate of Bibimbab that can serve 300 people is certainly captures the interest of the public, but whether it plants a positive view toward Korean food and actually makes people want to try it is a different matter.
Korean cuisine has a lot of potential to achieve worldwide popularity but its incompetent attempts at promoting it is hurting what little reputation it already has in the global market. Admittedly there are some exotic qualities of Korean food that might scare off people unfamiliar to it. For example, ingredients such as cuttlefish, seaweed, sesame leaves, and octopus are almost uniquely consumed by Koreans. However, that does not mean dishes using such ingredients cannot appeal worldwide. The global success that Japanese and Vietnamese food have achieved proves that exotic foods can be enjoyed internationally. Japan cuisine involve a lot of uncooked raw seafood while Vietnam food uses copious amounts of cilantro, both ingredients rarely used elsewhere. Despite this, both foods are enjoyed worldwide, various restaurants exist in many cities and it is even possible to buy the needed ingredients and make them in one’s own home. This is because both countries have meticulously thought out successful plans to promote their food.
In the case of Vietnam, Vietnam chose to promote its pho noodles, mainly on its simple recipe. The dish is quite easy to cook as most of the focus goes on boiling the base soup stock. When the soup stock is boiled with seafood, it becomes a seafood pho dish. When cooked with beef brisket, it becomes a beef pho noodle dish. Being so easy to cook, many decided to promote it as an unconventional type of fast food. Mainly served in Chinese-takeout-like-boxes, people could easily go grab a bite if they wanted. Also, unlike cooking cilantro with the noodles like originally in Vietnam, pho noodles served outside of the country serve the pungent herb separately so people could choose to not eat cilantro if they find the taste too exotic. By deciding it to promote as an accessible and familiar food, Vietnamese has managed to gain worldwide popularity .
On the other hand, Japanese cuisine takes a completely different strategy. One of the most prominent features of Japan food is to promote Japanese as a high-end classy food. It is