|An instructor explains Korean food preparation to foreign correspondents at E:eum, a Korean food cultural venue in Jongno District, Seoul, Thursday. Courtesy of Korean Food Promotion Institute|
|Kwon Jae-han, deputy minister for agricultural innovation policy at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs|
Interest in Korean culture is higher than ever today, in line with the ever-growing popularity of K-content, which encompasses K-pop, movies, entertainment, and food sectors.
Recently, TV programs have been featuring the launch of Korean restaurants overseas to promote the country's food to local people. In 2022, ATOMIX became the first Korean restaurant to be listed on the World's 50 Best Restaurants (W50B) ― known as the Oscars of the culinary industry.
With the increasing recognition of Korean food brands globally, Kwon Jae-han, deputy minister for agricultural innovation policy at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said in a recent interview with The Korea Times that the government has been introducing a range of policies to promote Korean food at home and abroad.
"With the craze for K-content such as 'Parasite' and 'Squid Game,' foreigners no longer consider Korean food unfamiliar. The popularity of Korean cuisine has expanded beyond traditional dishes like bibimbap and bulgogi to include street food favorites such as tteokbokki and yakgwa," Kwon said. "In 2010, there were no overseas Korean restaurants that had obtained Michelin Guide Star ratings. However, as of 2023, 28 Korean restaurants have been awarded these ratings, and the number of popular Korean restaurants overseas is increasing."
The deputy minister said in the U.K., the restaurant BUNSIK sells local street foods favorites such as hot dogs and tteokbokki, and it has gained immense popularity, with long waiting lines every weekend. "This serves as an indication of the changing awareness and perception of Korean food abroad."
|E:eum, a Korean food cultural venue in Jongno District, Seoul / Courtesy of Korean Food Promotion Institute|
Foreigners in Korea have the opportunity to experience Korean food culture by visiting "E:eum," a Korean food and cultural destination located in Bukchon, Seoul. Since its opening in August 2022, E:eum, operated by the Korean Food Promotion Institute, brings together the Korean food culture center, the food master experience and promotion center, and a traditional liquor gallery.
"E:eum offers a chance for individuals interested in Korean food, such as foreign diplomats, cooking instructors abroad, and foreigners residing in Korea, to prepare various traditional dishes like kimchi, bulgogi, and yakgwa. Visitors can also enjoy exhibitions, experiential events, and learning experiences related to Korean cuisine," Kwon said.
He then stressed the unique character and value of Korean food.
"Korean food encompasses tradition and the future. In the past, its mysterious allure, colorfulness and the neatness of table setting was noted, but recently, it has captivated the taste of the world by reflecting the trends and freshness as a representative K-content along with the Korean Wave," the deputy minister said. "To increase the commercial value and attractiveness of Korean food, we will develop a growth strategy with globally competitive experts from the private sector such as leading entrepreneurs and celebrity chefs. We will also promote the growth of Korean food industry through collaboration with the agricultural sector in Korea."