Foreign tourists grade Korean cuisine with a “C” rating

In a recent survey from Food Culture and Tourism Institute, foreign tourists appeared to only be mildly satisfied with their experiences with Korean food, giving the cuisine an average “C” rating.

In a 2014 survey that lasted 16 days and included 810 foreigners leaving the country after vacationing in South Korea, the surveyors recorded an average rating of 74.44 out of a possible 100.

Demographically, the survey sample was broken up into roughly six categories. About 350 participants in the survey were Chinese, 126 Japanese, 190 other Asian, 59 North Americans, 43 European, and 41 other. Of the surveyed individuals, North Americans tended to rate Korean cuisine the highest, with an average rating of 82.44 points.

When asked what their favorite Korean dish was, bibimbap, a popular mixed rice dish, proved to be the most popular with 34.8% of the vote.

The mediocre ratings received from foreign tourists is quite a major setback for the Korean culinary industry. In 2008, Chang Tae Pyong, the South Korean Minister of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, announced the start of the Global Hansik Campaign.

With the goal of making Korean food (hansik) into one of the five most popular ethnic cuisines in the world by 2017, proponents of the campaign have been pushing relentlessly to promote Korean cuisine to international consumers. In fact, popular idols such as solo artist Rain and SM Entertainment idol group Super Junior have been ambassadors of the program in the past. With foreign tourists only mildly satisfied with Korean cuisine, it’s hard to be optimistic about the success of the Global Hansik Campaign by 2017.

Sources: Yonhap News

Cwiertka, Katarzyna J. “The Global Hansik Campaign and the Commodification of Korean Cuisine.” The Korean Popular Culture Reader. Kyung Hyun Kim and Youngmin Choe. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. 363-384.