Gochujang, made of fermented blocks of beans, red chili pepper and sugar, bears a deep, spicy and sweet flavor that matches many kinds of menus including meat, soup, salad and simple snacks. The global exposure of Gochujang has significantly increased in recent years through South Korean TV dramas and entertainment programs.
Fans of K-pop and K-drama dared to try Gochujang, recreating menus they saw on TV dramas and show programs. Professional chefs have added innovation to existing Korean menus or created new menus using Gochujang and shared their unique recipes through social media.
The Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp (aT) said in a statement on August 28 that exports of Gochujang in the first half of this year were valued at $23,674,000, up 27.3 percent from a year ago. "We think that Korean food has gained the attention of fans watching K-drama on Netflix while Gochujang, the main ingredient of Korean menus, became popular," an aT official was quoted as saying.
Thailand showed the biggest increase in imports of Gochujang. The Southeast Asian country, which is famous for its hot and spicy "Sriracha" sauce, imported $998,000 of Gochujang in the first half of this year, up 170.5 percent from $369,000 a year earlier.
"Itaewon Class," a cable TV K-drama starring actor Park Seo-jun and actress Kim Da-mi, gained explosive popularity in Thailand this year. The drama, released globally through Netflix, depicts a story of young entrepreneurs starting their own Korean-style bistro. The drama encouraged many Thai fans to cook Korean food using Gochujang, aT said, adding the synergy of watching K-drama and home-cooking will continue to boost exports of Gochujang.
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