Ceramics maker at the vanguard of food promotion

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Ceramics maker at the vanguard of food promotion


Jo Tae-gwon

Jo Tae-gwon, 61, chairman of the ceramics manufacturer KwangJuYo, has initiated a number of studies and publications on Korean food. He also opened Gaon, a restaurant that aimed to serve the finest Korean food in the best presentation. The business recently closed due to the Korean perception that fancy local meals are extravagant.

Why do you stress globalizing Korean food?

Globalizing Korean food is about creating and reviving values. Why do we neglect a huge market worth billions of dollars? Food is a strong element in most developed countries. Japan managed to adapt their food and reinterpret dishes like curry, tempura, red bean buns and pork cutlet. These experiments nurture people’s imagination and seek a way to engage with the world.

Korea lost opportunities because we failed to recognize the excellence of our food. A way to revive interest in Korean food is to nurture Korean art including ceramics, crafts and interior design. It’s a question of civic awareness.

How do you view strategies for globalizing Korean food?

Globalizing Korean food equals globalizing Korean culture. For instance, a hanok [traditional Korean house] must be globalized for us to eat Korean food within its walls. We need to enhance every detail concerning food. That’s how we entice customers. Japan did this well. They set up great restaurants and invited Western customers to experience their culture. We should allow other cultures to experience the beauty of Korean culture through its food.

You stress enhancing the reputation of Korean food culture.

You can understand a country by studying its cuisine. You can also understand the mind of a person through his values and aesthetic sensibility. A restaurant is able to set cultural standards. The majority of Korean revenue was based on exports; it’s now time for us to export quality Korean food because it can become a national brand. Otherwise, why would Hollywood celebrities like Robert De Niro invest in star chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa in New York?
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