Saturday, May 21, 2016
‘Kimchi diplomacy’ – Establishing diplomatic relations through full stomachs
Gastrodiplomacy is a fairly new element of cultural diplomacy within the field of public diplomacy. The aim of gastrodiplomacy is to use food to communicate and engage with global publics and attempting to create emotional connections by winning the hearts and minds through culinary pleasures (Rockover [sic -- JB], 2014: 13). Additionally gastrodiplomacy is utilised as a tool for nation branding by using a nation’s traditional food cuisines and cultures to create or enhance a more positive global image of the country as a whole (Ruddy, 2014: 29). Indeed, as Hillary Clinton has claimed food to be “the oldest form of diplomacy” (ibid.: 29), it is only plausible that positive culinary experiences and reputations would perhaps be the one of the most effective ways to enhance a nation’s image. Among other East Asian countries that have adopted gastrodiplomacy as a part of their diplomatic ‘artillery’, South Korea has been particularly dedicated on using the approach to promote the country’s image. In 2009 South Korea launched a multi-million dollar campaign labelled ‘Korean Cuisine to the World’, which aimed to exponentially increase the number of Korean restaurants around the world by funding international culinary classes involved with Korean cooking, as well as supporting domestic students by granting scholarships for attending food festivals and culinary schools around the world (CPD, 2015). The diplomatic value of this culinary campaign was truly demonstrated when the First Lady of South Korea at the time of the launch of the campaign personally cooked a hearty South Korean meal to a group of American veterans who had fought in the Korean War (Moskin, 2009).