JEONJU, KOREA — “Hansik(Korean cuisine) is not just food; it is the root of the country’s philosophy and traditional culture that bears our culture, spirit, and a 5,000 year history. Our ancestors developed a unique food culture that is harmonized with nature. Fermented food, in particular, is healthy since it is made with Korean agricultural products that have strong medicinal effects. The main ingredient is bay salt, created by the earth, water, fire, and wind,” says Chung Woon-chun, former Minister of Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries(MIFAFF). He gives additional information in his book “The Seven Idiotic Challenges of Chung Woon-chun.”
Mr. Chung has made numerous efforts to globalize Korean food. While serving as the first minister of MIFAFF to the Lee Myung-bak Administration, he realized that Korean food has healing power and began a globalization project to share it with the rest of the world. Five traditional Korean foods – soy sauce, doenjang, gochujang, kimchi, and jeotgal – were selected as the five fermented foods. He promoted a variety of projects to spread these foods worldwide. His efforts eventually drew attention from other parts of the world that considered Hansik(Korean cuisine) to be both healthy and delicious. The World Health Organization said Hansik(Korean cuisine) is the model of healthy eating that contains many nutrients. The international health magazine “Health” selected kimchi as one of the five World’s Healthiest Foods. Dubbed as an anti-cancer food, Hansik(Korean cuisine) is gaining popularity all over the world. Mr. Chung, who strives to develop Jeonju as the global Mecca of Hansik(Korean cuisine) globalization, spoke with Korea IT Times:
“Although Jeonju is one of the most industrially neglected cities in Korea, it is a city that has preserved Korea’s history and culture more than any other city.” He added that the city “has an environment to become the world’s healthiest city.” He knows the special quality of Jeonju food, which is often noted as the best in Korea. The city of Jeonju also has clean air, mountains within a 10 minute drive and scenic views. “Jeonju is second to none when it comes to food. In fact there are 1450 restaurants around the country named ‘Jeonju restaurant’,” he said. As the hometown of fermented food, Jeonju hosts “International Fermented Food Expo” and “Jeonju Bibimbap Festival” every year, making it a must-see city for tourists who love Korean food and culture.
He is planning to make Jeonju a healthy city by combining it with the Hansik. Foreign visitors come to Jeonju to enjoy healing foods, nature, and to simply relax. Mr. Chung, explaining his ambition, said “we will create a “healing program” in which clean nature and Hansik help restore people’s health. He explained, “Food is the most important element in the natural healing program.” He continued by saying, “We will develop Jeonju as a global Korean food Mecca with a wide range of menus combined that include fermented foods.”
The city’s effort to become a Korean food Mecca includes designating Jeonju University as the Korean-food specialist university and opening a Creative Culinary Institute. The Clinical Trial Center for Functional Foods of the Jeonbuk National University is currently carrying out research to find out how Korean foods are for our health. The Bibimbap Research Institute is planning to promote a project to share health with the rest of the world through food. Mr. Chung said, “we will analyze Hansik(Korean cuisine) in a scientific and medical way to prove why it is the healthy choice.”