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ZenKimchi recently posted about a new Korea Tourism Organization initiative called - as I've done before with other tourism / expat websites, it's time for a review.

The Korean government has a pretty spotty reputation when it comes to websites - a bit ironic considering the technological savvy of both the country and its people. Some websites come out looking great - is one example - while others initially fell flat on their face. That the latter has improved from when I first reviewed it is hopeful.

The homepage is attractive enough:

Below the fold are several 'recommendations' for restaurants and foods - since this is still a new site, few restaurants and foods have been listed as of this post. That's a shame, since this is the sort of website that I would use as a reference were it more complete.

When looking for a restaurant, being able to find the place is paramount. That goes double if I've traveled some distance to try the specialty promoted online. The map opens in a new window, which to its credit is entirely in English - yet offers no directions whatsoever. Touring Korea? Hope your map skills are up to snuff.

The food section offers the chance to comment on and rate a given food - not a bad idea, if you remember what you had or do it on your mobile device. Recipes are given with very good directions and photos - probably the most helpful part of the site if you're interested in Korean food. My only complaint is that more dishes aren't represented - but again, it's a new site.

I'm not precisely sure what to make of It seems to have many of the pieces to the puzzle - columns by expert 'foodies', restaurant reviews, recipes, good pictures, passable-to-good English (Japanese is also available), and the standard Web 2.0 'stuff'. The biggest thing working against it - a lack of style / personality - may be because much of the text sounds like it was written by the restaurants themselves. The recipes are nicely written, but the style is missing there as well.

The other big problem? It's so been done. Seoul Eats started writing about Korean food years ago, as did ZenKimchi. FatManSeoul is still alive and eating quite well; Brian at Kiss My Kimchi does more than a bit of food writing; Chalica over at keeps up the great work for vegetarians. That each of these blogs is essentially a hobby (or at most, a side job) means the Real Thing being done by the KTO should be... well... I dunno, quite a bit better.

By default, not selecting an area shows you all the restaurants within a given category - unfortunately, it has yet to list a single vegetarian restaurant anywhere in Korea. I'll give it some time to develop - it would be nice to see an official government website dedicated to food. This one isn't there yet, but it's a decent start.


  • Well-organized
  • Good English; Japanese available
  • Well-written recipes and columns


  • Incomplete (as of this post)
  • No directions to restaurants
  • Missing a sense of style / personality
  • Private / hobby writers have a large head start

Overall grade: C. Bookmark it and come back to it in a month. In the meantime, keep patronizing your favorite blogger(s).

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Creative Commons License © Chris Backe - 2010

This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.



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