SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Korea Bizwire) – Buoyed by South Korean soft power, Korean cuisine is becoming more palatable to the tastes of hungry diners all over the globe.
As foreign taste buds have grown more accustomed to Korean dishes, more restaurants, 24,246 in four more countries to be precise, have popped up in the last eight years.
On January 17, the Korean Food Promotion Institute’s published report on the state of Korean dining on the global stage revealed that there were 33,499 restaurants specializing in bibimbap, bulgogi and other Korean specialties in 90 countries (as of November 2017).
The figures are evidence of Korean cuisine’s increased prestige; in 2009, there were 9,253 Korean eateries in 86 countries.
The new restaurants were found predominantly in China, the United States and Japan with growth of 690 percent, 15 percent and 88 percent respectively. Combined, 20,530 restaurants opened doors in the three countries, comprising 85 percent of all new establishments in the eight-year period.
Taiwan, Indonesia, Europe and the Middle East were also host to a greater number of Korean restaurants than before, adding 1646 restaurants since 2009.
The spread of Korean TV dramas, music and fashion is believed to have played a large role in familiarizing Korean food with foreigners. For instance, the historical drama Dae Jang Geum, which features many aspects of traditional Korean cuisine and culture, was a hit in the Middle East.
Also helping attract new, health-conscious diners is Korean cuisine’s designation as healthy thanks to its vast array of fermented foods.
In countries like Russia, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, the influx of Korean corporations such as LG and Samsung is believed to be another factor in the proliferation of Korean restaurants.
In a sign that Korean food is becoming accepted by locals, 86 percent of all restaurants were found to be located in areas not typically frequented by Koreans. Furthermore, 76 percent or more of the clientele were non-Koreans, and 55 percent of owners were foreign.