The green mermaid pushes another tradition aside

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The green mermaid pushes another tradition aside

I am surprised that Starbucks has done so well in Korea. When I first heard five years ago that the American coffee chain was coming here, my guess was that it would be one of those trends that didn’t last very long.
Honestly, who would have thought Koreans would drink this much Starbucks coffee? If we need coffee, we can get it from vending machines. They are everywhere. And most of us are so busy drinking alcohol that we’re usually looking for something to soothe our stomachs, not stimulate them.
Well, my guess obviously turned out to be wrong. The company recently opened its 108th branch in Korea, near Seolleung station. According to the company’s mission statement, it plans to expand even further, opening up at least one new Korean location every month.
The effect Starbucks has had on ordinary Koreans is startling. One of my girlfriends, a financial analyst at a multinational firm, says she feels a strange pleasure when she sees the forest-green sea goddess on the company’s logo. She says she sighs with relief when she sees it after a long day. I don’t know what the graphic designers at Starbucks have done with its green mermaid to trigger such a hypnotic effect, but whatever it is, they certainly know their consumer psychology.
I think many people would agree that Starbucks has changed Koreans’ lifestyles. People might have wanted the glamour associated with a Western lifestyle, but it’s really changed the daily routine of Korean office workers. One of the changes I’ve observed is that there are a lot fewer restaurants in Seoul specializing in haejangguk, a traditional broth for chasing a hangover away. This is odd, since it was once considered almost a business ritual to end a long night of drinking with a bowl of soup in the morning.
Instead, in business districts I now see men in suits at Starbucks, faces still red from the night’s drinking, sipping coffee before they head back to the office. I must admit, it’s a little sad to see. It used to be a pleasure, on a cold winter morning, to pass by a restaurant on my way to work, peer through the steamed-up window and see a group of businessmen slurping soup. There was a natural intimacy and sense of comfort about it.
Maybe this is a healthy change; now that haejangguk restaurants are harder to find, maybe people will drink less. On the other hand, maybe they’ll drink all the more because the good old days are gone forever.

How to Cook

Kimchi haejangguk

Ingredients: 250g of kimchi, 100g of bean sprouts, 1 green onion, 1 green chili pepper, 1 red chili pepper, 8 cups of water, 8 anchovies, 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Serves 4.
1. Chop the kimchi into bite-size pieces, dice the green onion, remove the tails from the bean sprouts and seed and dice the chilli peppers.
2. Put the anchovies and the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Discard the anchovies.
3. Add the bean sprouts and kimchi to the pot and boil for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and boil for another 10 minutes or so. Serve.
From, Delicook

by Park Soo-mee
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