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“I Love Korea So Much through Tasting Samgyeopsal and Galbi!”

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Agrafood : Could you please introduce yourself?

Mr. Wesley : I am Wesley Smalls. I’m an American from Orlando in Florida and I’m now in my second year teaching in Korea. I arrived in February 2009 since when I’ve been teaching at an elementary school and living in Gwangju. I came to Korea after graduating from university because I wanted to experience a new place and culture and teaching English here is the perfect option.  

Agrafood : What was your first impression about Korea?

Mr. Wesley : Well I was first surprised at how helpful and kind Koreans are. I thought it would be very difficult living here, since when I came I couldn’t speak or read any Korean. I didn’t know how to order food or even read a map. But, wherever I go, if I look a little lost or confused,  people always stop and help.  

Agrafood : What’s your favorite Korean food and what kinds, if any, do you dislike?

Mr. Wesley : Well, I would have to say that I like a lot of Korean food. Teaching at a public school I have to eat the school’s lunches, which has exposed me to a lot of different foods. But my favorites are samgyeopsal and galbi. I also really like japchae. One food that I can only eat a little bit of is rice cake, but I love songpyeon. Also, I wish that I could eat fish, but since I’m allergic to some fish, I don’t eat them a lot here. But I admit they do look delicious!

Agrafood : Is there any American cuisine similar to Korean food?

Mr. Wesley : Yes, there are many American dishes that are similar to Korean dishes. In fact, American cuisine is really just a mix of the traditional foods of many different cultures.

Agrafood : From your own experience could you recommend a nice Korean restaurant? 

Mr. Wesley : One of my favorite restaurants to visit in the town where I live is a place called Nurungji (crust of overcooked rice), It’s named after the rice dish. It’s my favorite because the owner is extremely nice and friendly. Also, the Samgyeopsal and galbi meat is well prepared and marinated. The side dishes are many, and they’re all delicious. I eat there twice a week or more. I take a lot of my co-teachers and friends there as well. I love that place!

Agrafood : In your opinion which is the best part of Korea for sightseeing and eating food?

Mr. Wesley : Since I’m from Florida, I really like areas by the beach. Also, I like exploring the Jeollanam-do area for interesting sights. I think all of Korea is beautiful, but this is the part where I live. It’s great to just take a day picnic to the bamboo forest in Damyang or go to Mokpo to fish. And the islands off of Mokpo make for many great day trips as well.  

Agrafood : What do you think is the most effective way to introduce Korean food to the world?

Mr. Wesley : This is a tough question. I consider the only way to really get quality Korean food is here in Korea itself. I assume that in so many other countries the ingredients aren’t the same, or they aren’t fresh or made traditionally. As Korea’s tourism increases, more foreign visitors will have the opportunity to taste traditional Korean food. When tourists, business people etc come here, they will find that there’s Korean food everywhere, and it’s delicious!

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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