Many Korean products and companies have lately done well in the global market. Along with the boom in Korean pop culture, known as ‘Hallyu,’ spreading across Asian countries and beyond, a series of international events held in the nation — including the 2002 World Cup Games and the G20 summit — put Korea in the spotlight on the global stage. This has also drawn growing attention to Korean food and cultural products.
Korea’s efforts to promote its cuisine in the global market are bearing fruit.
Hansik, or Korean cuisine, has been increasingly embraced by diners across the world as they are aware that Korean cuisine is rich in nutritional value and unique in taste.
Korean dishes such as kimchi, bulgogi, bibimbap and galbitang have come to be directly associated with the typical image of Korea, while gaining growing popularity as healthful dishes.
Furthermore, the Korean food industry has lately been spreading its wings within the international food market. Korean instant noodles, snacks and beverages as well as traditional red-pepper paste, gochujang, have seen sales of their products grow in overseas markets such as Japan, China and Russia.
As hansik becomes more highly appreciated by foreign diners, Korean cuisine restaurants can be easily found in major cities around the world. Moreover, Korea’s leading food service companies like Nolboo NBG and CJ Foodville have entered markets beyond Korea.
Nolboo NBG opened its China branch in Beijing and in Singapore, contributing to the growing craze for Korean cuisine in these countries.
CJ Foodville’s bibimbap-franchise restaurant Bibigo has three overseas branches in Beijing, Los Angeles and Singapore, along with seven stores in Korea.
Bibigo provides a differentiated service, which allows diners to customize their own bibimbap dish.
Against the backdrop of these developments, the Korean government mapped out a project to raise the number of overseas Korean restaurants from 10,000 in 2007 to 40,000, to spread 100 top-tier hansik restaurants throughout the world by 2017 and to more than double agricultural and seafood exports to $10 billion in 2012.
To realize this goal, it announced a plan to assist Korean franchise companies to promote and establish their branches abroad.
But culinary industry experts say that promoting hansik worldwide involves more than just making sure that as many as non-Koreans as possible should sample Korean dishes. They point out that a more important challenge lies in making sure that hansik become a part of people’s everyday lives. To the end, the culinary industry as a whole needs to figure out dining habits of its potential customers and their culture.