MAFRA (the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs) and aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation) have been running the Young Agri-Food Fellowship (YAFF) program since 2014. YAFF is a social network for university students around the world who are interested in Korean food. About 2,300 university students in Korea and abroad, mostly in the places where aT has its local offices, are now participating in the program.
In this issue, the status of Korean food in China is assessed by Jeong Hye-rim who studies in the Korean Language and Korean Culture Department of Fudan University located in Shanghai.
1. Tell us about the YAFF activities you have participated in.
I worked as an interpreter and staff member at SIAL CHINA (China’s largest international food fair), China Kids Expo, and China Franchise Expo. Recently, I planned a campus project to promote Korean food at local universities and organized a promotional event at Shanghai International Studies University.
2. What has been the most memorable activity and why?
Korean food has been popular with Chinese consumers for a long time, so it is natural that the Korean hall at SIAL CHINA attracted many visitors who wanted to enjoy Korean food. However, oftentimes, their knowledge and understanding of Korean food was limited. For example, they knew only one type of kimchi, pàocài, so I was happy to provide them with accurate information about the diversity of kimchi types. It was very memorable.
Regarding kimchi, I informed them that depending on the ingredients and sauces, there are many different kinds, over a hundred. Among them, baechu-kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi) is the most common in Korea and best known overseas. Kkakdugi and chonggak-kimchi are also popular abroad but they are often confused with each other. The former is chopped radish kimchi and the latter is whole young radish kimchi.
3. What Korean products do Chinese people like?
My Chinese friends love Banana Flavored Milk. The product gained popularity among the Chinese in their 20s thanks to its sweetness, strong fruit flavor, fragrance as well as its beautiful color. It comes in several flavors—banana, strawberry, chocolate, melon, coffee, and so on—and you can choose one according to your taste. Frankly speaking, most Chinese dairy products contain little milk and are too watery.
Thanks to the growing popularity of Hallyu (the Korean culture wave), Korean ramen and tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake) appearing on TV receive much positive feedback from people in China. These days, many young Chinese enjoy Korean ramen with unique spicy flavors such buldak-bokkeum (spicy chicken) and Yeol Ramen (brand name).
Korean samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) offered in retort pouches are also in the spotlight. Many of my friends have posted pictures of this representative Korean healthy dish on the internet.
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