‘The Heart of Diplomacy’ through Hansik (Korean food) _ Director, Sook Ja Yoon, of Korean Food Foundation


The phrase ‘Food is the culture itself’ resonates truly with me. Recently, the number of foreigners looking for Korean Food has increased through the Hallyu Wave (referring to the increase in popularity of South Korean media worldwide scene). We should be able to let them understand about the Korean Food culture and deliver its exact taste. Also, it is important to spread Hansik, so that people all over the world are able to enjoy eating with the original sentiment and Korean culture to win over their hearts and minds, just like Korean Dramas and Korean Wave did to them.

The country’s food tells us its nature, lifestyle and philosophy. The tableware is also the culture of the country. The foreigners wonder and want to know chinaware, brass tableware and even the pattern of tablecloth.

Japan has grasped importance of ‘the Heart of Diplomacy’ and ‘Public Diplomacy’ to captivate people all around the world through Globalization of Japanese Food and spread its cuisine, led by the government from 1964. In addition, “Globalization strategy of Japanese Food” aims to make the nation’s food become one of the World’s Top Three Cuisines. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Japan) supports the establishment of a strategy and the budget. They also carry forward the project of training for a workforce led by the government, the support for the system and plan of recommendation for the restaurants overseas, and the supply of food culture as well as public relations activity intended for their ‘doubling program for the population of Japanese Foods in 5 years’.

People used to think that it was uncivilized behaviour to eat raw fish during the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Since the 80’s, having Sushi has become popular worldwide – thanks to the quality improvement of sushi and tremendous marketing strategies led by the government.

Japan has put a lot of hard work into the Globalization of Sushi for 50 years. It is rather late compared to Japan, but the Korean Government has explored overseas markers and work description through Korean Food Foundation. They are promoting especially the plan to connect with the Korean Culture on Tourist industry from this year. Korean Food Foundation has pursued the role as the control of Korean Food Globalization; for example, the publication of ‘100 of Beautiful Korean Foods’ in 8 different languages in 2008. Due to the fact that they analysed Hansik has not been standardised, it is less renowned compared to Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese Foods.

Some analysts have pointed out that Hansik Globalization is difficult due to the unusual ingredients and recipes. However, if it is able to overcome these problems through standardisation to maintain consistency in taste, Hansik globalisation is within the bounds of possibility.

There is an outstanding Korean restaurant in Paris, but no chefs are present. However, the customers can experience all the unique flavours of Korean Food as the restaurant has the original recipes. It is believed that having Bibimbab in Paris and the USA with the same taste, it is easier to spread Hansik. Standardisation is not the uniformity, but the consistency for its best flavour.

Recently, Korean Food Foundation has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Committee and popularised ‘the World’s TOP 10 Favourite Korean Foods’. Those TOP 10 foods have 7 elements involved which Korean Food Foundation suggests are shape, form, taste, tableware, table setting, convenience, and storytelling.

Furthermore, the foundation has the decided to use the theme ‘Hansik, Tell the Future’ of ‘2016 World Hansik Festival’ coming 28th of September. The academic world, media members as well as onsite specialists for each generation will give direction for Hansik and seek a way of globalization. I picture Hansik as not only Korean moral culture and heritage, but also a Public Diplomacy that share hearts with people around the world.

Article courtesy of The Seoulshinmun Daily
Edited by Yeyeong Cho and Saab Choi

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