ASEAN is emerging as a major destination for Korean agricultural exports. The region is already the second largest importer of Korean agriproducts. Consumers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam enjoy Korean strawberries, ramyeon, beverages, and other food products.
In Thailand, the Korean wave is at its peak, and thanks to the popularity of Korean TV series and variety shows, a growing number of Thai consumers are showing interest in Korean food products. The Korean strawberry and ramyeon, for example, have strengthened their positions as premium foods in Thailand. In this issue, the status of Korean food in Thailand is assessed by Kim Na-eun who studies hotel cooking at Dusit Thani College.
1. What activities did you participate in to introduce K-Food to local people?
I have been a YAFF member for two years. I joined when the aT office in Bangkok started the program and have had a lot of interesting experiences.
The most memorable of my YaFF activities has been to start and operate a Facebook page introducing Korean Cuisine. I made a team with my friends from YAFF and together we create and frequently upload diverse new content on the page. It has received a positive response and now has more than 1,000 followers.
Last October, Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-serving monarch, died at the age of 88. Everyone in Thailand was shocked and saddened by his death. The following month, we set up a small booth at Saranrom Park (located in front of the Grand Palace) and handed out persimmons, red ginseng tea, Choco-pies, iced yuja tea, and other Korean food to the mourners to express our condolences.
2 What K-Food do people in Thailand like?
In the hot climate of Thailand, many local people enjoy having a sweet dessert after their meal. One of the most popular is ice flakes. These days, Korean-style ice flakes are a great hit in Thailand. Cafés offering Korean-style ice flakes first appeared in Bangkok only two years ago. Now, most stores, even the smallest ones, have them on their menus, and Korean ice flake franchises always have long lines of customers waiting to get in.
Korean ice flakes are made with finely shaved ice and boast a great variety of flavors. They look pretty and taste great, appealing to young consumers. My Thai friends have Korean-style ice flakes very often and upload pictures of them on social media.
Another popular Korean food in Thailand is Buldak-bokkeum-myeon (noodles with spicy chicken flavor). Many people broadcast themselves cooking Buldak-bokkeum-myeon and eating it online.
3. Is it true that Korean strawberries are popular in Thailand?
Yes, the Korean strawberry is in the limelight in Thailand. Its unique sweet-and-sour taste, which consumers say is “out of this world,” has made it a big hit in the Thai market. I heard the export volume of Korean strawberries has almost doubled in the last three years. The fruit is considered a must-have for Thai tourists when they visit Korea.
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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