Many people are willing to invest more in
desserts than in entire meals. Recently in the dessert market, Korean traditional
desserts have been in the spotlight. We look into the appeal of Korean desserts,
gaining popularity with modern reinterpretations. Even amid economic sluggishness, the dessert
market has grown each year. “The westernization of Korean food culture
has increased interest not only in various foods but also in desserts. Consumers’ desire to enjoy small luxuries
even amid the recession has had a major impact on the dessert industry.” Befitting this trend, various attempts are
being made at the Korea Traditional Food Culture Center, opened in 2016. “The Korea Traditional Food Culture Center
Eeum is a comprehensive cultural space where Korean drinks and food can be tasted, experienced
and purchased.” The second floor of the Korea Traditional
Food Culture Center is a cafe serving Korean desserts and teas. Only products from 6 government-approved tea
masters are sold. “Very good. Maybe next time i will try some hot tea and
for the more full experiences.” What’s the most popular item on the menu
at the Korea Traditional Food Culture Center, where 20% of visitors are foreigners? It’s fusion traditional tea, which helps
beat the heat . Fermented green tea is turned into sweet milk tea, and milcha , or tea grown
in the shade, is reinvented as a refreshing latte. Persimmon vinegar, made by aging sweet persimmons
for over 3 years, becomes a popular persimmon-ade. How do such fusion traditional drinks appeal
to those more accustomed to coffee after meals? “Korean people drink too much coffee. This sweet and sour drink is made from omija
berries. It’s quite good.” A hands-on traditional food program, which
anyone can attend with a reservation, has also become a popular course. The aim is to promote a better understanding
of traditional Korean teas and offer fine memories of their flavors. “It’s very tasty, and the in-depth explanation
piqued my interest.” Experts advise that a flexible attitude is
needed to globalize Korean desserts, rather than an insistence on tradition. “If both past and currently popular Korean
flavors and desserts embody our senses, then there’s no need to insist on traditional
desserts for globalization. Global desserts popular in Korea now can become
Korean desserts if they are made in our style.” As the summer weather heats up, demand rises
for patbingsu , a shaved ice dish and Korean dessert favorite. With the popularity of so-called healthy pleasures,
diverse bingsu variations are using ingredients like organic rice, honeycomb, and red ginseng. Most popular of all is purple bingsu Last
year, the global interest was explosive, with 5 million views recorded on facebook in just
3 days. This bingsu, made with a purple puree on ice
instead of red beans, uses purple yams grown in Korea as the key ingredient. “The purple image of purple yams best fits
the Korean and modern image we aspire to, which is why we use the ingredient.” The yam chips and walnuts which decorate the
dish resemble flowers. Even the minute details are attended to. Purple, a highly-regarded color both in the
East and the West, is also appealing to foreign diners. “I think that this place is pretty representative
of dessert Korea, and I like it a lot because it’s not too sweet but it’s really different…And
it’s smooth and really pretty. It’s important.” Thanks to the bingsu using purple yams, which
are rich in dietary fiber, the company’s sales increased roughly 3-fold in 3 years. “The delicious flavor matches how pretty it
is visually. Sweet potatoes are popular these days. We really like it. That’s why I came to try it.” About 50% of this company’s clients are
foreigners. In June of this year, the company began a
global expansion, starting with Thailand and the U.S. “Korean desserts, like those of other countries,
combine flavor and style. Efforts are being made to publicize this aspect. ” Amid the dominance of western desserts, Korean-style
desserts are devising new strategies. It remains to be seen whether global tastes
can be captivated with the development of original new dishes based on traditional flavors.