A K Food Party?: Why Korea is terrible at marketing itself

Yes, I’ve come out of blogger semi-retirement to pen my first article in nearly 6 months… and this one is good. Why?

Well.. watch this video…

Did you enjoy it? Doesn’t it make you just want to go out there and eat Korean food? (actually who cares if you eat it as long as you spend money on it?)

The obvious answer is no…. and this video came to my attention from another blogger who I met recently. He writes Scribblings of the Metropolitician. Well, anyway why am I coming out of blogger semi-retirement for this post?

Find out after the jump.

Because this is simply idiotic! I’ve lived and worked in Korea long enough to see that Korea is totally inept when it comes to marketing itself to foreigners. I even had a job once where I was supposed to market Korea to foreigners… which is the genesis of this blog. (Hey, the money was good).

But the ideas they have are crap. REALLY!

There are several reasons why Korean marketing of itself doesn’t work, but probably the biggest one is because the government and most corporations are organized from the top down, so generally any brilliance from the younger employees is quickly stifled.

Maybe they should have gotten help on this campaign from that girl in the office who you hired for her awesome English skills who spent her teens and early 20’s in the US… but instead you ask her to get you coffee, while you and the other 60 year old men who don’t speak English decide how you are going to sell the country to foreign people, even though you don’t know anything about foreign people other than stereotypes.

Another thing is that it seems the way to market things in Korea is to spout its superiority over an established brand.. but this is a country, so it comes off as saying.. Korea is better than your country.

But let’s analyze the video itself shall we?

In Korea we got choices… (Oh really? What choices are those? I’m Korean, I like Korean food, but when the choice at the local siktang is between 3 different kinds of soybean based soup with veggies and meat involved, that’s not much of a choice at all.)

The secret’s of health and beauty? Really? This just comes off as total bullshit. Especially given the foreign stereotype that Koreans all get plastic surgery, saying that you have the secret to health and beauty in the food actually makes the food look less appealing.

Then Yubin comes in rapping in pseudo ebonics.. using every cliche “cool black person” catch phrase.. even creating a new one.. k-swaggin.. what the hell does that mean?

For me to stay fly I gots to eat good. Try to take my fruits and veggis I wish somebody would. I’m k-swaggin it Cuz i gotta stay bad with it. Please don’t knock it till you try it. Don’t be mad at it K-food we baggin it yup

You know.. I’m not black, but I have the feeling that my melanin enriched friends don’t appreciate Yubin’s rap.. and it’s probably not her fault… she’s reading lines essentially…. but whoever is behind it….

Really, you might have just said “Damn, n-gga, DAMN, eat that Korean food yo fo shizzle, kimchi is tight know wum sayn? Though I better stop there before somebody gets any ideas.

Finally nothing about the song makes me want to go eat Korean food. Strawberries, ginseng, kimchi? And not a single picture of any of them? And I had no idea that strawberries were specifically Korean, nor did I know that Korean strawberries were any better than those in other countries. Sure, they are delicious… but I recall the strawberries back home and in Japan were as well. Ginseng? Really?

Holy crap! I’ve got to go out and eat some ginseng now! Why? Because Hyerim says I have to.

The ad is a disaster. Make the smart choice and take it down!


To the Wonder Girls: I forgive you for this embarrassment. I know for a fact you were just doing as your company had contracted you to do.

So what would be a good way to market Korean food overseas? This is actually a hard question to answer. The reason is because most Koreans themselves don’t know good Korean food.. that is because most Koreans live in Seoul… and food here is hardly of the caliber you can find in the countryside.

Oh no, but tourism industry wants people to stay in the city, so that people can think that Korea is nice and modern… we can’t sponsor food tours to the countryside…. with fresh air and nature and scenery… ahhhhh…

I don’t know how to market it better to tell you the truth. I like Korean food because I grew up exposed to Korean food, and it was delicious.

I think though that the government needs to just forget its hangups over whether or not foreigners like Korean food. Who cares? If they like it, you’ll complain that they aren’t making it right and are stealing Korea’s food…

2 Responses to “A K Food Party?: Why Korea is terrible at marketing itself”

  1. For some reason I just feel the need to try Korean Strawberries, I don’t understand why they say Kimchi! and show you a strawberry, to be honest I didn’t finish the video, I had enough after 90 seconds.
    I love Korean food, it’s one of my favorite things about Korea, I didn’t grew up with this kind of food and for some things you have to try them more than 3 times to start liking it, I don’t have any ideas to advertise KFood (maybe I should think about it) but last year I went to Jeonju and found out this is the land of Bibimbap and Makgeolli and I didn’t know much about it, I also went to Gunsu and had awesome seafood 🙂

  2. DudeFromOutWest Says:

    You can only speak for yourself, cuz I wants me some Korean food after watchin that shiz. Now where can I find some in Bellingham, WA.

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