A pilot test of the plan will begin in Manhattan, New York, where Government researchers concluded there were a high number of small Korean restaurants run by people who have abandoned the motherland. Under the scheme, the Government will open a huge Korean restaurant which will be owned and run by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Seoul. It is hoped that this ‘mega-restaurant’, subsidized by Korean taxpayers, will put the smaller independent Korean restaurant owners out of business. A senior source in the Ministry told us that once the Koreans in New York are put out of business, it is hoped that they will have no choice but to return to Korea.
Because driving overseas Koreans out of business may be perceived as wrong by Korean voters, the Government is officially calling the move part of a wider project to globalize Korean food, which is known as ‘hansik’ in Korea. Under the slogan “Come and get hansik”, the Government is hoping New Yorkers will stop visiting restaurants run by people who have betrayed their country, and the restaurant’s catchy name “Globalized Korean Government International Superior Safe Food Wellbeing Ubiquitous Dokdo Is Korean Territory Restaurant” will see people flocking through the doors.
The move has caused some debate in Seoul political circles however. Since there are already a large number Korean restaurants in New York which are promoting Korean food, some politicians doubt that Korean taxpayers are going to fall for such a flimsy cover story, even if it is dressed up in nationalist language, which usually prevents voters from thinking on the grounds that independent thought is unpatriotic. So far though, the tightly controlled media has pushed the Government line and ensured there is no dissent. The Dokdo Times, which falls outside Seoul's tough media restrictions due to Dokdo's older laws taking precedent over Republic of Korea law, can reveal the restaurant is expected to lose approximately $5 million per year.
44-year-old Kim, who runs the nearby Kum Gang Restaurant, admitted he was worried that the Government-run restaurant would use taxpayer money to subsidize food and drive him out of business, but he’s hopeful that much like Korean politics, the restaurant would ultimately fail due to rampant corruption, nepotism and appallingly slow service. He also doubts the Government’s explanation that it is opening the restaurant to promote Korean food. “We’ve been around for more than 20 years. Does the government think we haven’t tried all kinds of measures?”
Indeed, according to one prominent New York restaurant critic who has recently had to seek police protection and can not therefore be named, Korean food is always destined to remain a niche because “it really isn’t that great”, but Korean people are unable to accept the idea that it doesn’t particularly appeal to Western palates. “When several month-old cabbage is considered the signature dish of your cuisine, Korean food is always going to be a tough sell” he is reported as saying before he went into hiding. The Government admitted that the old cabbage, which is called kimchi in Korea, will be part of every dish on the menu.
If the restaurant is a success the Government is planning to open similar schemes in other cities where Koreans living overseas operate restaurants, and eventually they hope to use Korean taxpayer money to put more expatriate Koreans out of business. A move into the U.S. convenience store business is already secretly being trialled in Los Angeles. With each restaurant projected to lose $5 million per year, the Government estimates it can open 1,000 such restaurants around the world before the amount exceeds the annual budgetary loss to corruption and reaches a level which might incur public scrutiny. However, as the project is aimed at people who have betrayed the Republic by leaving, the expenditure might eventually be given a blanket 'National Security' heading in Government accounts to disguise its actual use.
Off the record, the Minister of Culture told us that he hopes to send a strong message to Koreans everywhere that traitors who leave Korea in order to try and build a better life for themselves “will be hunted down like dogs - which also taste very nice even though we aren’t supposed to talk about that any more.” In an extremely rare concession to foreign sentiment, dogmeat will officially be omitted from the New York menu.
'Too many Korean restaurants in NY'