Korean ambassador on bilateral ties, investment opportunities and culinary experiences

In the coming weeks, people in Prague will have a unique opportunity to sample traditional dishes and delicacies from South Korea – thanks to an event organized by the country’s embassy. At its launch in a Prague hotel, Radio Prague spoke to the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Czech Republic Gabriel OH and first asked him whether Czechs have many opportunities to try Korean food in restaurants or buy the necessary ingredients.

Gabriel OHGabriel OH “There are about fifteen Korean restaurants in Prague and in Ostrava – especially in Ostrava where the Huyndai Motor Company is located – and there are three Korean grocery shops in Prague. And then you may also buy Korean food ingredients in Tesco and Makro as well.”

Turning to Czech cuisine, Czech food is known to be rather heavy and stodgy. But still, do you have a favourite Czech dish?

“Oh, yes. I find that Czech dishes are rather similar to Korean ones so Korean tourists really enjoy Czech food. I personally like to eat pork knee and duck leg. I love it!”

You’ve already mentioned the Hyundai plant in Nošovice. Also there is an extensive student exchange between our two countries; a few years ago, a Korean TV series was shot in Prague, but there is certainly more to the two countries’ bilateral relations…

“Yes, we had a Korean drama called ‘Lovers of Prague’ which was filmed here and shown with twenty episodes. Many Koreans watched it on TV and they like to come here to Prague to see with their own eyes the beauty of Prague. So now, I think, a little over 100,000 Koreans come here as tourists every year. Before they used to come only to Prague but lately they visit Český Krumlov and also Karlovy Vary and other beautiful places in the countryside.”

Do they also come to the Czech Republic to do business?

“Of course, since they are here and find it interesting, some of them seem to seek opportunities to do business in the Czech Republic.”

Having mentioned Huyndai and its suppliers, are other Korean companies interested in investing in the Czech Republic?

“Yes, there are many Korean companies which are interested in investing in the Czech Republic because your government is promoting investment, especially in the IT and service areas so Korean companies in those areas are also interested in investing.”

I would say that many Czechs know more about South Korean consumer electronics than they do about the country’s history and culture. Is there a cultural exchange between our two countries?

Photo: AhaePhoto: Ahae “Of course, Czech music, including the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and opera is very popular in Korea. On the other hand, for example the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra came here last year and also a Korean modern art exhibition or Ahae’s photograph exhibition were held at Veletržní palace. And lately Korean pop music, they call it K-pop, is very popular among young Czechs, mostly Czech girls through internet. I heard there are about a thousand fans who almost every day listen to K-pop music through earphones.”