The doctor has officially pronounced it. The government’s Korean food globalization campaign was an expensive failure.  Well, maybe not a total failure. It did enrich the pockets of a lot of charlatans with government connections (we weren’t one of them, DARN those sour grapes!). I remember people calling us out on the blog as haters for pointing out what is finally coming into the light. There were so, so many things wrong with this campaign.

  • Non-centralized strategy, so no one knew what direction to go
  • Throwing money at people based on seniority and connections, whether or not they had any decent strategies on promoting Korean food beyond their own pet projects (remember the Ddeok expo?)
  • Promoting foods that foreigners had little interest in, like royal court cuisine
  • Hiring celebrities (Wondergirls, Super Junior, Bae Young Joon) who had nothing to do with food and were basically unknown outside of the Korean Wave Empire and giving us the atrocious music video “K-Food Party”
  • Letting yangban aristocrats like Cho Tae-kwon steer the campaign
  • The government-run Korean restaurant in New York City that didn’t go anywhere
  • Planning to support the overseas expansions of Kyochon (fried chicken), Mr. Pizza, and Kraze Burger–deep pocketed franchises that could fund their own expansions
  • Oh, and there was that program to create a world-famous celebrity chef in three months that was mostly attended by CEOs and corporate execvutives
  • And that questionable survey that put pumpkin porridge and pumpkin ddeok as top 12 foreign favorites

Recently, though, they started going on a more sensible track. The New York Korean restaurant guide was good. And I recently got my hands on an intro to Korean food book by them that almost sounded like it was written by us. (So, of course, it was good.) But then they come out with silly insecure articles like sperm counts on men eating traditional Korean food versus hamburgers (which they stereotype as being traditional “western” food). The jokers at VANK couldn’t be outdone, so they did the Mediterranean Diet vs. Hansik (HT John Francis Power).

In what culinary PR textbook does it work to promote your cuisine by telling your audience that their own cuisine is shite?

Seo Kyung-duk

Now, the government shouldn’t get all the blame. A lot of the most head-scratching campaigns were the brainchilds of self-declared PR “expert” Seo Kyoung-duk (NYT ads, WSJ ads, Times Square ads, Bibimbap Wanderers), who once said, “The day I close my eyes, I want my people to be as powerful as the Jews and the Chinese.”

Supposedly, he claims that he gets his funds from netizen donations and private sources–at least, now he does. Still there is no indication as to where he got the money to do his first full-page ads in the NYT on his visiting professor’s salary. I smell a rat.

Send your complaints to mulitul@hanmail.net.


So anyway, here’s a quick summary of what’s been going on here and in Korean food this past week.



Our new brochures are in, and they look great!


2013-05-17 15.09.46Finally got to meet our editor Tammy and her husband Jeff in person. Yeah, can you believe it?


2013-05-17 15.36.03

We were at a new childhood nostalgia themed tea house in Insa-dong called Insa-dong Ppong Dabang 인사동 뽕 다방, where we were all a tad too big for our tables.


2013-05-16 16.35.02

Also had the privilege to hang out with Seattle food writer Jay Friedman. Here he is whacking the crap out of a Schneeball. Will talk about those later.


2013-05-16 16.58.07When opening a clothing store in Hongdae, make sure to have a brand that truly stands out.


2013-05-17 19.55.16

No truer words were said.


2013-05-17 21.24.30Wow, a double rip-off! So, you may think I am getting out my Jump-to-Conclusions Mat when guessing that this restaurant is copying its name from Hooni Kim’s Michelin-starred Danji in New York.  But then they also do a logo that’s a bit similar to Chef Kim’s other restaurant, Hanjan.

And get this–they’re an ITALIAN restaurant! I guess they’re going for the Porchetta Copycat Award.


2013-05-18 16.16.07Sighted at my local Paris Baguette. Keep in mind that this is a mass produced cake. Wow! Take that, Cake Wrecks!


2013-05-15 13.28.38Is my mind just dirty thinking what I’m thinking when seeing an ad like this?


News and Blogs


Young Radish Kimchi (Chong Gak Kimchi)

Easy Young Radish Kimchi (Kimchimari)

tofu 2

Crunch Spicy Tofu Bites (A Fat Girl’s Guide to Eating in Korea)

ddeonjang jigae

Vegan Doenjang Jjigae (Vegan8Korean)

White Onion Kimchi (TickTalk)


2013-05-14 18.55.43

Surprisingly good Capricciosa pizza at Cafe 오감 (Ogam) near Anguk Station, exit 1. Very cheesy and included fresh mushrooms and green olives.


2013-05-17 18.46.12

A branch of Kokoro Bento opened near the office. It’s my new favorite lunch stop.


Eat Your Kimchi does Korean BBQ Camping Style at a place called Outdoor Factory

Speaking of outdoors, check out this gorgeous BBQ spot in Paju

Portland’s The Original Pancake House is coming to Seoul (**NEWSFLASH** Just opened)

Bistro Petit’s Franco-Korean food by Chef Sung Park (Brooklyn)–GREAT VIDEO

Don't make mistakes other travelers have made!

Get regular emails with insider tips on how to maximize your visit to Korea. Sign up now!

Tour Tips Newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!