[Letters] Winning hearts and stomachs

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[Letters] Winning hearts and stomachs

After reading the article titled “Foreigners confute population forecast,” in the April 6th issue of the JoongAng Daily, I wondered what Koreans could do to implant Korea into the minds of foreigners.

People say that the inflow of foreigners could be an opportunity to enforce a positive image of Korea.

With the G-20 Summit ahead, it may certainly be a huge opportunity to boost the image of Korea and develop the tourism industry.

As I am still a high school student, I am aware that I do not have a full understanding of the immense preparations Korea is making at present.

Yet, from my perspective, I cannot help thinking that all the development and effort Korea is making right now is greatly concentrated on luxurious changes targeted at greeting prestigious VIP visitors.

Advancing the image of a country does not only mean arranging savory luncheons and providing excellent service at luxurious hotels.

It also means attracting foreigners through the country’s everyday lifestyle.

Food is usually the easiest and most natural way to approach a country’s lifestyle.

For the last couple of years tteokbokki has been in the limelight of Korean food that could be made global. Since the taste of original tteokbokki may be too hot for foreigners, many Korean chefs have developed recipes and ways to attract the tastes of foreigners.

Restaurants that specialize in tteokbokki have also opened all over the country. Menus are diverse, ranging from the original hot and spicy tteokbokki, from new menus like cream sauce tteokbokki or tteokbokki pizza.

The prices are also very reasonable and the size of the servings are enough to fill the stomach.

Plentiful servings are an important part of Korean food. Koreans usually call it “inshim,” which could be translated as the generosity of the owner shown by the size of the serving.

However, the people who actually dine at these restaurants are Korean people. Many foreigners are not even aware that these restaurants even exist. Foreigners are usually seen in extravagant fusion Korean restaurants where the dishes are served as courses in small portions and the prices are beyond reasonable. After dining at these restaurants, the image of Korean food that foreigners take home is expensive and difficult to approach.

It does not take breathtaking glassware and shiny plates to promote Korean food. Korean food is already difficult to approach for foreigners on their first try. There is no reason to make it harder by serving it on extravagant dishes.

Therefore, instead of recommending luxurious restaurants that give small servings on plates as big as the moon, Koreans should suggest places where foreigners can really taste the plentiful and savory dishes of Korea.

This could be the first step to planting a positive image of Korea to foreigners.

Kim Da-yeon,

student at Seongnam Foreign Language High School
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