I’m trying not to show my bias in this.
Seoul has had a love-hate relationship with its own street food. Even though they are heavily patronized by citizens, the government has treated them in the past as embarrassments. I think they even tried to ban them or put them out of sight for the 2002 World Cup in Korea.
The latest measure has been to require street vendors to use standardized food carts from the city. I guess so that they’d all look the same. Maybe cleaner?
There is a tendency to judge restaurants by how sterile they look than by the restaurant’s character, which explains why Korean restaurants tend to have bright hospital lighting. And the street food carts look a little more inviting–in a Disney-fied sort of way. I really don’t know what to make of them.
This obsession with standardizing and making everything look like a theme park was part of the controversy with the Filipino Market in Hyewha-dong. The government wanted the vendors to purchase the more expensive standardized carts in part of their arm twisting to kick the market out of the neighborhood.
Does standardizing street food make it better? I’ve heard in Singapore the government is much stricter, but they also have a reputation for great street food.
What do you think?