Foreigners and Koreans Differ Widely on Food, Survey Shows

      June 12, 2007 06:30

      Foreigners who live in Korea say that the biggest cultural differences here as compared to home are Korean food and the way Koreans invite guests to eat, a poll has found. When a foreigner wants to impress a guest he will invite him to his home, but Koreans treat their guests to dinner at fancy restaurants.

      The survey was conducted on 100 foreigners including 21 diplomats, 50 entrepreneurs, 17 scholars, 11 journalists, lawyers, and professionals, and one artist. The survey also involved 174 Koreans including 78 entrepreneurs, 39 scholars, 19 public officials, eight professionals, six artists, and three others.

      The Korean food culture survey was conducted by the Corea Image Communication Institute, which released the results on Monday. "There is a great difference in food culture between Koreans and foreigners," the CICI said. While five out of 10 foreigners said they mostly invite guests to their homes, 40 percent said they met with guests at restaurants and 10 percent took them to hotel restaurants. Meanwhile, nine out of 10 Koreans said they took their guests to restaurants or hotel restaurants, and on rare occasions took them home.

      The food that people had with guests differed from what they ate with their family. While foreigners chose equally among Korean, Chinese, Japanese, French and Italian cuisine, 63.79 percent of Koreans said they mostly ate Korean food when dining with guests or having a meal out with the family.

      "Koreans still think that they have to serve a lot of food -- enough to make the table legs bend -- when they invite someone to their homes," a CICI official said. "But foreigners are happy showing family photos, listening to music, and sharing homemade meals. That cultural gap would be hard to narrow."

      According to the survey, both Koreans and foreigners expected that galbi, bulgogi, and bibimbab could be successfully introduced to other countries. When asked why Korean food is not easily globalized, 34.48 percent of Koreans said it's because it just hasn't become well-known yet, while 45 percent of foreigners said it's because of its strong scent.

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