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Gastro diplomacy : Tteokbokki as Korean food that is famous in Indonesia

Gastro diplomacy is not just about taste, but is also a powerful diplomatic tool.

Tteokbokki , a typical Korean food in the form of spicy rice cakes that has received a warm welcome in Indonesia.

tteoboki , gastro diplomacy , korean culture

Its presence at various food stalls and culinary festivals in Indonesia not only serves delicious dishes, but also provides a window for Indonesia to experience and appreciate the richness of Korean flavors and culture through brilliantly executed gastro diplomacy.

In the era of globalization, not only trade in goods and services is growing rapidly, but also cultural exchange through food. In Indonesia, Korean food which is a favorite of many people, especially among young people who like to explore culinary delights, is tteokbokki. Tteokbokki or often spelled as tteopoki is a spicy Korean dish made from rice flour that is shaped lengthwise and topped with gochujang sauce. Before discussing further about how tteokbokki became so popular in Indonesia, it is important for us to look at its history. Tteokbokki was first introduced in the 19th century, during the Joseon Dynasty era in Korea. This food originates from the court cuisine of the Joseon Dynasty called gungjung tteokbokki. At that time, this dish was huintteok cooked in soy sauce with beef, bagogari, bean sprouts, green beans, parsley, shiitake, carrots and onions. The taste is much different from the chili-spiced tteokbokki that is known today, but over time this dish consists of tteok (rice cake) cooked in spicy sauce, tteokbokki has evolved with the addition of ingredients such as eggs, odeng (fish cake), and other ingredients. With its distinctive sweet and spicy taste, tteokbokki quickly attracted the attention of Indonesian people who like to try new foods. Apart from that, the presence of K-Pop and Korean dramas which are very popular in Indonesia also influences people’s interest in Korean food. In the concept of international relations, this is an example of gastro diplomacy.

So what is gastro diplomacy? The concept of gastro diplomacy refers to the use of food as a tool to promote a country’s culture. For example, South Korea, through the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, has promoted Korean food throughout the world with the aim of introducing their culinary riches through international food exhibitions and Korean restaurants in various countries. In Indonesia, Korean food was first introduced through Korean restaurants which started popping up several years ago. One of the things that makes tteokbokki so interesting is the variations made by the sellers. In Indonesia, several restaurants even make tteokbokki creations with the addition of local toppings such as meatballs, sausages or cheese. This shows the adaptation and integration of Korean culinary culture with local Indonesian flavors. The existence of Korean food such as tteokbokki in Indonesia is not just a foreign food, but has become part of the culinary culture in this country. Korean restaurants that serve tteokbokki are often crowded with visitors, both by Korean food lovers and those who are curious to try something new. In fact, recently tteokbokki has been made in such a way in the form of packaging so many fans of this Korean food have finally formed various forms of fast food packaging to make it easier for fans to enjoy it anytime and anywhere. This can also be seen in the development of very diverse Korean restaurants in Indonesia, which is none other than due to the high enthusiasm of Indonesian citizens for typical Korean food.

The presence of tteokbokki in Indonesia not only enriches culinary choices, but also has a deeper impact. Firstly, tteokbokki has opened up new business opportunities for restaurant entrepreneurs in Indonesia, especially those who focus on international food. This creates new jobs and increases local economic growth. Second, Indonesian people who taste tteokbokki also broaden their view of Korean culture, by exploring new flavors, they also open themselves to the values and traditions of that country. On the other hand, for South Korea, the success of tteokbokki entering the Indonesian market is a major achievement in efforts to promote their culture. Apart from improving the country’s image as a producer of quality food, the presence of tteokbokki in Indonesia also strengthens relations between Indonesia and South Korea, this can be a starting point for further cooperation in various fields, not only culinary, but also economic, educational and cultural. Thus, tteokbokki is an interesting example of how Korean gastro diplomacy has succeeded in influencing the existence of Korean food, such as tteokbokki, in Indonesia. Through tteokbokki, not only the spicy taste is enjoyed, but also the relationship between Indonesia and South Korea is getting closer, the positive impact is felt not only in culinary and economic terms, but also in broadening horizons and deepening understanding of each other’s culture. Gastro diplomacy is not just about food, but also about cultural bridges that enrich the experience of all of us. With tteokbokki, Indonesia not only enjoys delicious food, but also feels the warmth of Korean culture in every bite.

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