Customs agency hosts promotional campaign for Korean food at Incheon airport

A Moroccan tourist uses her smartphone to click on a QR code generator posted on Shin Ramyun, a popular Korean instant noodle product, during a promotional campaign of Korean food hosted by the Korea Customs Service (KCS) at Incheon International Airport, Tuesday. Courtesy of KCS

INCHEON — Leo, a Swiss tourist, said she was glad to see a promotional booth of Korean food at Incheon International Airport, Tuesday, as she could bring back home some of the foods she enjoyed during her two weeks of travel in Korea.

“We wanted to buy snacks to bring home, and when we saw the booth, we were like, ‘Oh, let’s pick some stuff up,'” she told The Korea Times, as she was on her way home with her friend.

For Yassine, a Moroccan tourist, the promotional campaign was “a fresh idea” because “It’s a good experience to get to learn popular Korean food brands” which he was not familiar with.

Both Leo and Yasssine are among a growing number of foreigners who are increasingly interested in Korean food, thanks to the global popularity of Korean popular culture.

This is where the Korea Customs Service (KCS) has come in, hosting a promotional campaign at Incheon International Airport where it gave out a total of 3,000 packs of Korean instant noodles, seaweed sheets and instant rice to international tourists who were returning home.

The campaign ran from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, at Terminal 1, one of the airport’s two terminals where more than 60 airliners, many of them flag carriers, arrive and depart.

They are from Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Laos, Mongolia, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, 안전 Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, among others.

“The campaign is the first of its kind, reflecting global demand for ‘hansik,’ (or Korean cuisine),” KCS spokesperson Cho Han-jin said. “And we hope the campaign helps to widen the demand.”

He explained that the customs agency came up with the campaign in cooperation with three private businesses, Nongshim, Haenong and CJ, to gain support in expanding Korea’s exports.

“Accordingly, we selected instant noodles, seaweed and instant rice that are at the center of fast-growing overseas sales of Korean food,” Cho said.

The three items were picked based on feedback from a list of recommendable export items during a KCS-hosted YouTube contest for foreigners on Korean food promotion.

Each of the 3,000 packaged goods had a QR code generator that linked to a collection of YouTube videos created by winners across the country.

Of the 3,000, 1,000 packs of instant noodles or “ramyeon” were provided by the country’s No. 1 noodle maker Nongshim.

Located in the country’s largest seaweed farming area of South Jeolla Province, Haenong offered 1,000 packs of seaweed.

A total of 1,000 packs of instant rice were from CJ, the country’s largest food conglomerate.

According to the KCS, ramyeon topped the list of popular Korean foods based on feedback from the aforementioned YouTube contest.

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