• Chris Backe

    Having read the Busker Busker story, very little should surprise anyone anymore regarding CJ. Their main interests – excessive (or exclusive) product placement, owning / controlling every aspect, and prioritizing style over substance – make a show executed well and done with integrity near impossible.

    Good on you for playing along – and a good word of warning for anyone looking to associate with a chaebol.

  • http://www.busanhaps.com/ Bobby McGill

    Today I read your piece (good stuff, Joe) and I read the Busker Busker story. Throughout both I had a recurring image of that Jeep cruising down the track at the Korean F1 race over the weekend. Maybe I need a shrink.

  • amy

    Yeesh. I like MasterChef USA (and they just started MasterChef Junior- awww). Product placement has crept into that show as well- it feels as though there are several Walmart Mystery Box challenges per season now with “fresh produce, USDA beef from Walmart” blah blah.

    • http://zenkimchi.com ZenKimchi

      A little product placement is inevitable. In Korea’s case, it’s the company producing the show using the show for self promotion.

  • Stevie B

    When Masterchef Korea first started, I was quite excited at the prospect. I thought it presaged Korea taking a step into a brave new world of cuisine. However, after the auditions were through, it quickly became apparent that the show existed for no other reason than to promote CJ food products. There was very little actual cooking (i.e. restaurant technique and professional-level cuisine) – it was just a non-stop advert, with challenges like ‘let’s see what you can do with this Baeksul cooking oil’, and ‘let’s go to VIPS and have the ‘experts’ show you how to cook a steak’. It was utterly woeful.

    And then what happened at the end? The oldest male contestant won, and what could have been a positive development for Korean culture and food devolved into nothing but a reiteration of the status quo. What’s more, the second season was even worse – more shameless in its corporate whoring and even more regressive in its food standards. If there’s a third season, I suspect it will just consist of 20 hours of stills of Dokdo emblazoned with the message ‘If you don’t love CJ, you must hate Korea.’

  • Sinister

    So the ‘food criminal’ responsible for one of the worst, and most overpriced meals I’ve ever had in my life is Leo Kang, he should be shot! They can’t even cook spaghetti properly in ‘Macaroni Market’. The food there is absolutely awful. If his crew don’t even know how to make spaghetti vongole, they should all be executed. More ‘Shitalian’ rather than Italian in that joint! I can make that dish at home for next to nothing, but it was very expensive in the ‘Macaroni Market Massacre’ of Italian food. If he cooked like that in Sicily, the Mafia would soon sort him out!

    I was angry, I rarely send food back. But on their the first attempt the dish was full of sand and grit and inedible. On their second attempt the spaghetti was not ‘al dente’ as it should be, it was crunchy! The only saving grace was the bread, which was quite good. I guess they buy their bread in.

    I’d rather eat at Burger King, Kimbap Nara, or some other such crappy place than darken the doors of Macaroni Market ever again.

    One thing I would ask to you Zen, is why don’t ever say a restaurant is crap? Is it the stupid libel-defamation laws in this country. One of my favourite restaurant reviewers-food writers is Jay Rayner, who writes for the Guardian newspaper. If Jay hates a place he will tear it apart, if he loves it he’ll lavish well-deserved praise on it, he tells it like it is. If you want to be a respected food critic, then you can’t just love everything, you got to have some balls and tell us when a place is woefully bad.

    Until critics start being honest about restaurants, and Korea becomes less corrupt, the food scene here will continue to suck. You can eat well in many Asian countries for a fraction of the price you can in Korea, so I appreciate you have a difficult job. But if you are more honest and sincere, you’ll get a lot more credibility.

    I’m not ‘dissing’ you here, just expressing my opinion.

    • http://zenkimchi.com ZenKimchi

      Thanks! You know, I thought I did my share of restaurant trashing (“Ape with Hype”) so much so that I was called out for being too negative. Now that I think about it, I’ve channeled my vitriol into the ZenKimchi Dining site.

      Having worked in the industry, I stay away from Yelpy cliches of basing reviews entirely on one dining experience. If I see something wrong with the system itself I call it out. If it’s an off night, fuck it. It’s an off night.

      • http://zenkimchi.com ZenKimchi

        I also suggest following my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. Some stuff isn’t worth making a whole blog post for.

        • Stevie B

          Whilst we’re about airing grievances, that noisy advert featuring the muppet-type character that comes up on the front page is very irritating.

          • http://zenkimchi.com ZenKimchi

            Yeah, experimenting. I think I’ll take him down. But my newsletter sign ups spiked when I put him on.

  • bigmamat

    I think it’s pretty funny that Korea is trying so hard to “promote” it’s food culture abroad. In a country where there are only 3 ways to cook something it’s pretty hard. If it isn’t boiled, grilled or raw then it’s been buried in the ground and allowed to rot or ferment if you want to be nice. I understand that many of the U.S. cooking shows have digressed into something almost as whoreish as a Korean tv production but why o’ why do we have to keep watching people cook the parts of the animal most people would rather throw away. You’d think that the world was fighting over the nasty bits of every animal on the planet. I’m sorry but eating offal does not stimulate my taste buds it triggers my gag reflex. Much like Korean food, you can watch people eat just so many cheeks, guts, eyeballs and balls balls before you lose your damned appetite.

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