Web Site for Korean Recipes Launched
By Kim Hyun-cheol
As part of the government-led initiative to promote Korean food, or ``hansik,'' a new state-run Web site has been launched to build a databaseto protect it as a sovereign intellectual right.
The Korea Food Research Institute (KFRI) Tuesday introduced the Web site (www.tradifood.net), which was designed in a year-long collaboration with the Korea Agency of Digital Opportunity and Promotion and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.
From recipes of over 3,500 dishes depicted in historical texts to their nutritional information and cultural backgrounds, the Web site will offer a variety of information on traditional Korean food to the public, the KFRI said.
But above all, this is a strategic move to protect Korean food as the product of the country's traditional knowledge, according to the organization.
``As competition intensifies on the global stage to secure various intellectual property rights, companies in many advanced countries muscle into developing countries to occupy their traditional knowledge in order to develop them into lucrative industrial technologies,'' KFRI spokesman Lim Seon-kyu said.
For example, about 80 percent of all U.S. patents concerning medicinal herbs involve indigenous plants in India. Korea has also fallen victim to such an ``invasion.''
In 1983, Nestle applied for a patent for a process for producing vegetable juice through fermentation, similar to a process used to make kimchi, Korea's representative traditional side dish, in 15 countries including Korea.
Back then, no official references were available here to block Nestle's move. In the end, the Swiss-based multinational food giant didn't get the patent in Korea as local businesses and colleges filed a combined complaint with the government, but it did succeed in other countries.
The outcome would have been different if kimchi-making technologies had been compiled in a database to be used in patent-related reviews in other countries, the KFRI said.
Under the regulation of the World Intellectual Property Organization, the building of an integrated database is essential for any traditional knowledge to be subject to industrial protection as a sovereignty right. The food institute expected the Web site to meet global standards in its promotion of hansik.
The portal will also provide Korean companies with information helpful in industrializing traditional food items into diverse food products, the KFRI added.
``This portal site will contribute to protection of intellectual property rights related to traditional Korean food,'' KFRI President Lee Moo-ha said. ``It will also help better promote our food to the public here.''