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 Negative reactions to Seoul’s Manhattan restaurant plan

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#Nurarihyon#
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PostSubject: Negative reactions to Seoul’s Manhattan restaurant plan   Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:40 am


By Jane Han

NEW YORK ― The Korean government plans to open a mega restaurant in downtown Manhattan next year, a key item on its growing list of ingredients to globalizing Korean cuisine. But how does the plan sound to existing restaurateurs? Not too tasty.

For many business owners, the newcomer is seen as just another competitor ― only a lot bigger in size and scale.

The government announced last month that it will invest 5 billion won ($4.4 million) to launch a 330-square-meter flagship Korean restaurant in Manhattan with up to 150 seats. If the New York venture turns out successful, the Korean government plans to kick off a series of overseas restaurants as part of its efforts to promote "hansik", or Korean food.
"We’ll put significant emphasis on the flagship restaurant as it is highlighted as a central measure of our hansik globalization plan next year", said an official of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The new eatery will be an addition to the existing 20-some Korean restaurants in Manhattan, where names such as New York Kom Tang, Kang Suh Restaurant and KumGangSan have been around since the 1980s.

"There are already too many restaurants that have similar offerings", said Kim Yu-bong, owner of New York Kom Tang. "Hansik won’t be globalized just because the government gets its hands on the restaurant business. What about all the existing restaurants? What have we been doing?’"

He said more support should be given to the established businesses since they’re already familiar with the market and industry.

"I welcome the fact that the Korean government is channeling so much effort into globalizing hansik, but it should first direct its attention to the forerunning businesses and seeks ways to improve and help them", said another owner of a long-standing Korean bistro in Manhattan, who didn’t want to be named.

"We’ve been around for more than 20 years. Does the government think we haven’t tried all kinds of measures?’’ she added. ``The New York restaurant scene is a fierce market to break into."

A majority of restaurateurs echoed the need for support and interest in the existing businesses, but some acknowledged that a governmental effort would boost the general perception of Korean food in the U.S.

"If the government builds a luxurious bistro at a completely new level, it’s probably going to help the image of hansik", said Lee Hee-sook, owner of BCD Tofu House. "It’s going to be effective marketing for us minus the cost."
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