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Promoting Korean Cuisine in China via Hit TV Drama

Posted June. 22, 2009 08:44,   


“Put condiments between the cabbage leaves evenly. Now, let’s try each kimchi to select a winner.”

A promotional event for the Korean TV drama “Gourmet,” also known as “La Grand Chef,” was held Saturday at a mansion in downtown Guangzhou in China’s Guangdong province. Some 200 people there gave a hearty cheer when two of the drama’s actors Kwon Oh-joong and Won Ki-joon appeared as judges.

Hong Kong Star TV hosted the event under the auspices of the Korea Tourism Organization in the run-up to the drama’s airing in China. “Gourmet” is the TV adaptation of a comic strip by Huh Young-man carried in The Dong-A Ilbo.

The event featured programs promoting Korean cuisine including a kimchi-making contest, a lecture on “bibimbap (spicy mixed rice with vegetables),” and a Korean food eating contest.

Similar events were also held in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan before the airing of the drama in those three regions, but the one in Guangzhou was the first to feature Korean food.

As part of the Korea Tourism Organization’s efforts to globalize Korean food, the event stressed Korean food’s excellent quality and nutritional value.

The host of the event said kimchi can help prevent SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the new influenza A (H1N1) strain, going as far as saying the Korean national soccer team won games in the World Cup thanks to Korean food.

The programs were well received by the Chinese in attendance. A 20-something office worker said, “I got really interested in Korean food after watching the Korean drama ‘Jewel in the Palace.’ I’ve had fun learning how to make Korean food.”

The Korea Tourism Organization seeks to raise the reputation of Korean cuisine in Asia, especially in China. When “Jewel in the Palace” was aired in Asia four years ago, it created a boom for Korean food, and the organization aims to recapture the momentum created by the drama.

A big boost to the campaign is a Korean task force for the globalization of Korean food with First Lady Kim Yoon-ok serving as honorary chairwoman.

F&C Korea President Kim Soo-jin, who was food director for the drama “Gourmet,” said, “While ‘Jewel in the Palace’ centers on royal court food, ‘Gourmet’ focuses on food that appeals to ordinary people.”

“Gourmet” features around 200 kinds of Korean food including a seasoned and steamed beef with fresh cream and a boiled stew containing all parts of beef.

The head of the tourism organization’s Guangzhou branch, Park Chung-kyeong, said, “People in Guangzhou, the home of Guangdong cuisine, have a delicate palate,” adding, “We will develop Guangzhou as a base to advance into all parts of China.”