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Seollal special spotlights hansik`s globalization


MBC takes the feast abroad on Lunar New Year`s with its special one-hour program, "Hansik`s Korean Wave Goes Global." As the title indicates, the show touches upon the currently popular topic, the globalization of Korean cuisine.
An MBC press release unveiled details of the upcoming food-doco special, explaining the angles, the approach and the scope of the program.
Unlike the broadcast network`s controversial New York "hansik" episode of "Impossible?! Possible! The Unlimited Challenge," the upcoming special adopts a more serious tack towards the issue at hand, relaying status updates on Korean cuisine in America, China and Japan. To add another dimension, the program also presents Japan`s successful globalization of sushi as a case study for the promotion of hansik.
"Just the overseas filming itself took up to 17 days," the special`s program director, Eom Sang-hyun, said over the phone.
Eom and his cameraman traveled to the United States to document one American`s bona fide enthusiasm for Korean cuisine, a passion that first took root three years ago via an encounter with bulgogi. Since then, the passion has developed into a diet that includes kimchi jjigae (stew), spicy jeyuk bokkeum (stir-fried pork) and soju, cemented by a weekly (or more) trip to a hansik restaurant and home-cooked Korean meals.
For yet another U.S.-based exploration of the global status of hansik, Eom focused on New York`s dining scene where a fast food approach towards bibimbap is gaining ground. Healthier than average fast food fare yet exceedingly easy to tuck into, the one-bowl meal is becoming another quick bite alternative for New Yorkers.
Across the Pacific, Eom and crew recorded the prolific adventures of an over 150-store Korean restaurant chain based in China, capturing the key points to the chain`s success. An over 80-item menu and an ability to serve fare within five minutes after an order is placed keep customers coming back for more. To pique customers` taste buds, less popular dishes are dropped from the menu on a monthly basis and replaced by new ones.
Sauces took center stage when the crew hit Japan to cover a sauce company that reels in an annual 17 billion yen ($1.89 billion) for its 450-something condiments.
"(They) make sauces utilizing Korean sauces as a base," Eom explained. "They use our country`s `jang` (sauce and paste) like `gochujang` (chili paste) and soy sauce. They sell seasonings for bulgogi and kimchi stew."
The program also chronicles a hansik teaching studio in Japan, bringing an educational slant to the special. The didactic tint will be further emphasized by an exploration of how Japan worked to globalize its cuisine through the establishment of the Organization to Promote Japanese Restaurants Abroad and culinary institutes for aspiring Japanese chefs.
"Hansik`s Korean Wave Goes Global" airs on Sunday at 7:20 a.m. on MBC.


By Jean Oh