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Namyangju Slow Food draws 521,000 Korean, int'l visitors

Nearly double the targeted 300,000

Namyangju Slow Food draws
521,000 Korean, int'l visitors

The Namyangju International Slow Food Fair (AsiO Gusto) on October 1-6, 2013 proved a huge success. The organizers had originally expected 300,000 visitors during the six-day run but it actually drew a total of 521,000 Korean and international tourists and visitors.

Mayor Lee Seok-woo of the Namyangju City (in blue Korean durumagi coat) raises hands in cheers with participants in the Namyangju International Slow Food Fair from various countries of the world.

Ambassador Edmundo Sussumu Fujita of Brazil and ambassadors of Nepal, Slovakia, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh attended the opening ceremony and so did many other senior diplomats from Italy, Serbia, Paraguay, Pakistan, Georgia and Argentina.

From the Korean side, the attending VIP guests included Governor Kim Moon-soo of the Gyeonggi Province, top movie-TV star Choi Bul-am, and a good number of National Assembly members.

The Namyangju International Slow Food Fair, held on the theme of “Slow-Food, Changing the World through Taste” and with a slogan of “Eat Good, Clean and Fair with Slow Food,” according to reports, produced an economic effect of over 100 billion won (nearly US$100 million) during the week-long festival.

Ambassador Edmundo Sussumu Fujita of Brazil in Seoul (left) presents a Plaque of Appreciation to Mayor Lee Seok-woo of Namyangju City, the host city of the 2013 Slow Food Fair

Mayor Lee Seok-woo of the Namyangju City, concurrently chairman of the organizing committee of the Fair, said, “I have endeavored to make AsiO Gusto a food festival for the producers and consumers to meet with each other and create the future value of the food-related industries, including food education, through agriculture from which the food comes. The International Slow Food Fair should not be a simple event only to show good food.” Then he said that if the Salone de Gusto of Italy accented the conference and exhibition, I would like to make the Namyangju AsiO Gusto focus not only on the conference and exhibition but also on making it a festival. (See further details of the speech toward the end of this Article.)

Korean and international guests fill the opening ceremony hall of the Namyangju Slow Food Fair to the brim. The organizers had originally expected 300,000 visitors during the 6-day run, but it actually attracted 521,000 Korean and international tourists and visitors.

In response to the mayor’s remarks, Ambassador Edmundo Fujita of Brazil said in part, “As diplomats based in Korea, we particularly appreciate this event, because we know very well the importance of good food in our profession. Food is about the people who prepare and eat it, it is the culture of the nation, it is the ecology of the country where it is cultivated, it is the economy of the society who needs its nourishing energy and it is the diplomacy of the state who wants to build friendly and cooperative relations in the international community.” (Further details of the speech at the end of this Article.)

Governor Kim Moon-soo of Gyeonggi Province (left) and Mayor Lee Seok-woo of Namyangju City shake hands with each other at the opening ceremony of the 2013 Namyangju International Slow Food Fair

At the luncheon hosted by Mayor and Mrs. Lee, Ambassador Fujita presented Mayor Lee with a Plaque of Appreciation on behalf of all the visiting diplomats to the Fair in appreciation of kind invitation for the diplomats to attend the opening ceremony and visit various booths and stands of the Fair.

From left, a Slow Food International (SFI) official, Mrs. Canganella (spouse of the Italian science attache), an SFI official, a Namyangju City official, Minister Counsellor Brang Marijanac of Serbia, Ambassador Edmundo Sussumu Fujita of Brazil, Mrs. Nada Marjanac, Mayor Lee Seok-woo of Namyangju City, an SFI official, Mrs. Lee Seok-woo, Secretary General Secretary General Paolo DI Croce of SFI, Mrs. Bella (spouse of Slovak ambassador), Seoul Bureau Chief V. Ogai of Korean Newspaper in Russia, and Chairman and Mrs. Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.

A total of 43 different countries of the world were represented in the Fair and Conference and a total of over 160 International Slow Food-related officials were invited from overseas, including the leaders. A total of over 1,000 different foods were introduced, including those that are fermented over a long period of time such as Korea’s Kimchi and organic foods that are good for health

Science Attache and Mrs. Francesco Canganella of Italy (center) pose with the Korean food demonstrators at a luncheon hosted by Mayor and Mrs. Lee Seok-woo of Namyangju City on Oct. 1, 2013.

Secretary General Paolo DI Croce of Slow Food International Headquarters said that he was very deeply impressed with the active participation of the citizens in the Slow Food and that they were not only interested in tasting the different foods but also tried to learn how to cook them.

Chairman Ahn Jong-woon of the Organizing Committee of the Namyangju International Slow Food Fair (AsiO Gusto) said that the Slow Food movement started to resist the spread of fast foods and that he was surprised to see the Korean visitors taking such strong interest in finding good foods. Then he assured that the Namyangju City will do his level best to host even better Slow Food Fair in the future.

There were three main pavilions, namely the Main Theme Pavilion, the International Pavilion and the Korean Pavilion--plus a World Food Street. Also attracting the attention of the visitors was the Ark of Taste symbolizing an effort to protect the endangered food species to preserve the slow foods that are going extinct.

Left: Open-air barbeque stand where chickens, ducks and even sausages were roasted Right: Korean international visitors flock the booths to sample and buy various foods from different countries.

There were outdoor experience site, Slow Food plaza, garden of traditional Korean-cuisine, traditional Korean domestic animal farm, farmers’ market and over 200 different street food booths and stands.

On the fifth day of the Fair, Doncha of Jangheung, Black Cattle of Jeju and Jayeom of Taean were selected and added to the list of foods to be preserved aboard the ‘Ark of Taste’ and a certificate was issued to the producer of each food.

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Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post visited each of the dozens of food booths and stands of various countries of the world asking the managers how the exhibition was. They all said happily that many visitors came to their booths and stands.

Earlier, the Organizing Committee of the Slow Food Fair selected five Korean foods for the ‘Korean Ark of Taste,’ namely the ‘Green Beans’ of Jeju, ‘Black Chicken’ of Yeonsan, ‘Chilkso and Seomalnai’ of Ulleung Island together with ‘Short-heighted Wheat’ of Jinju. The Organizing Committee had them registered with the Slow Food International. On the last day of the Fair on Oct. 6 at the International Pavilion were shown the Taste of Genghis Khan (traditional Mongolian food), Traditional Persian Taste of Iran and the treasured Puer Tea of the Tea Road of China.

At the Korean Pavilion, there were demonstrations where Korean sea cucumber dumplings were made and shown and so was naturally fermented traditional Korean wheat bread.

Slow Food was started in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, a journalist and social activist, in his home town of Bra in northern Italy. The movement began with an initial aim to defend good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slower pace of life, and then logically broadened its sights to embrace issues such as the quality of life and the health of the planet on which we live (eco-gastronomy).

Neo-gastronomy adds a further holistic element to this: A neo-gastronome has a responsible, comprehensive approach to food, combining an interest in food and wine culture with a desire to defend the environment and food biodiversity, and considers eating as not only a biological necessity, but also a convivial pleasure to be shared with others.

Nepalese folk music-dance troupe presenting a performance on their National Day

The Slow Food movement now has 100,000 members in over 160 countries around the world, with national associations in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Japan, the UK, the Netherlands and Korea.

Slow Food stands at the crossroads of ecology and gastronomy, ethics and pleasure, opposing the standardization of taste and culture and the unrestrained power of the food industry multinationals and industrial agriculture.

Mayor Lee (center) clap hands watching performances.

According to Chairman Ahn Jong-woon of the Namyangju International Slow Food Conference Organizing Committee, food with life and soul keeps the mind and body healthy. Here are excerpts from his remarks:

Yet drastic industrial development and tides of junk food have been threatening our lives, traditional lifestyles and even culture. This dramatic shift has led to a crisis in food, which should be the most important part of our lives.

The challenges of hyper competition and the drive for profit are destroying the heritage of natural farming and the culture of sharing. We are losing our diversity and local food because production has no sense of the traditions of the past.

We must escape from the trap of speed, and live wisely, as befits the name Homo sapiens ("wise man" in Latin). Instead of dully trying to make everything as fast as possible, we should relish less materialistic joys and the existing environment. Sensory pleasure and slow enjoyment in our lives can help protect us from an inert lifestyle obsessed with efficiency.

▲Top: Mayor Lee (center) speaks with Secretary General Paolo DI Croce of Slow Food International (right). Center: Mayor Lee (center foreground) shakes hands with Mrs. Canganella (wife of Italian science attache). Bottom. Mayor Lee, Mrs. Bella, Ambassador Bella of Slovakia and ChairmanLee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.
Our efforts should start at the table, with "slow" food. We must return to local, traditional flavors, and free them from the constraints of fast food. The current threat of efficiency, productivity and a fast-paced life should not change and harm us. Instead, we suggest the proactive solution of Slow Food.

This is why we need the Slow Food movement and Slow Food events: to cherish the real value of humanity. Slow Food is the way to fully savor and enjoy life.

On the closing day on October 6, 2013, reporters from The Korea Post visited each booth and stand at the Namyangju International Slow Food Fair and covered them sampling the different foods and beverage.

From left: Mayor Lee, Ambassador Lama of Nepal and Science Attache Professor Francesco Canganella of Italy

Asked how business was, most of the booth keepers gave a big smile--perhaps meaning that it wasn’t bad. Someone said that each booth should have sold two or three million won worth of food and beverage each day.

The closing ceremony was attended by a total of over 500 civic figures, including the leaders and members of the Organizing Committee and service volunteers as well as the local leaders, including Mayor Lee Seok-woo and Chairman Ahn Jong-woon of the Organizing Committee.

A variety of traditional Korean Slow Foods

Welcome speech by the Mayor of Namyangju City

at the Opening Ceremony:

Good afternoon! I am Mayor Lee Seok-woo of the Namyangju City.Excellencies, distinguished Korean and international guests, representatives of the Slow Food International, producers, chefs, Asia-Oceania delegates, Korean Slow Food officers and citizens!

My warmest welcome to you all to the 2013 Namyangju International Slow Food Fair!

Since the Namyangju City of Korea was chosen in Torino, Italy in October last year to host the International Slow Food Fair (AsiO Gusto), I have been eagerly waiting for this opportunity to welcome you all. Now here we are, and I am so glad to see you all.

Distinguished guests from Korea and from around the world!

We have been hosting the Korean Slow Food Fair every year since 2009 and in 2011 we successfully hosted the 17th Organic World Congress of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement. The 620,000 citizens of the Namyangju City have been working hard preparing to host the 2013 International Slow Food Fair (AsiO Gusto).

The AsiO Gusto in Namyangju City will not only introduce the typical taste of food of the Asian and Oceanian countries but also provide an opportunity for us all to learn the unique tradition and culture of Korea and to learn and experience the wide variety of food and beverage of the 44 different countries of Asia and Oceania. I also hope that it will prove an invaluable occasion to seek ways to prevent the extinction of, and preserve, a large variety of endangered food species.

I have endeavored to make AsiO Gusto a food festival for the producers and consumers to meet with each other and create the future value of the food-related industries, including food and education, through agriculture from which the food comes. The International Slow Food Fair should not be a simple event only to show good food.

If the Salone de Gusto of Italy has accented the conference and exhibition, I would like to make the Namyangju AsiO Gusto focus not only on the conference and exhibition but also on making it a festival.

At the Conference, we have prepared a forum for a total of 11 different subjects to be discussed by the competent scholars of the different countries, covering four different categories such as “food, justice and peace,” “Slow Food Movement and Hansallim Movement,” “Slow Food and Taste Training,” and “Agriculture and Eco Diversity of Asia and Oceania.”

A traditional Korean acrobatic show was presented clad in Korean farmer's band uniforms. It was one of the Opening Ceremony performances presented, which came as a sheer delight to many Korean and international visitors to the ceremony.

There will also be a ‘Taste Workshop’ where the participants will hear stories personally told by the producers and food experts and learn the relationship among various subjects related with food, including land, man, society, culture and economy. The participants will have an important opportunity to learn the true pleasure that derives from eating food.

Another outstanding feature of the 2013 Namyangju International Slow Food Fair is the food training for the children. This program is designed to arouse interest on the part of children in food and for this purpose we have been operating a Children’s Experience Hall which we established on September 2, 2013. This Hall will be operated on a permanent basis in the future.

Through the Slow Food Fair this year, I would like to invite the participants to experience the typical food and beverage of the different countries of Asia and Oceania and remind them of the importance of the different food cultures of the different countries of the region, including the food and beverage that are going extinct.

From left: Mrs. Lee KS and Chairman Lee KS of The Korea Post; Mrs. Kausar Shaukat Mukadam (spouse of Pakistani ambassador); Ambassadors Fujita of Brazil and Lama of Nepal; Minister Counsellor and Mrs. Branko Marjanac of Serbia.

I would also expect that the Namyangju Slow Food Fair will bring a change for the improvement to the local agricultural policies and improve the understanding on the part of the producers and consumers concerning food and beverage.

Lastly, I hope that the Namyangju City will become the hub city of Asia and Oceania to widely spread a ‘Slow Life” through the Namyangju International Slow Food Fair.

I would like to take this opportunity to also express my profound gratitude to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Gyeonggi Province, the Slow Food International, the Slow Food Culture Institute and all the Slow Food officers of the different countries of the world who have rendered invaluable support and assistance for the successful preparation of this Fair.

I hope that good health and happiness will come from our taste of food and that realization of it can cause a great change to the world. I would like to solicit your kind interest and support for the 2013 Namyangju International Slow Food Fair that will continue for six days from today.

Korean and international visitors sample various foods from different countries.

Excerpts from the congratulatory speech

by Ambassador Edmumdo Sussumu Fujita of Brazil:
Mr. Lee Seok-Woo, Mayor of Namyangju City, Ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Diplomatic Corps in Korea, I wish to congratulate you for your meritorious initiative in promoting the 2013 Namyangju International Slow Food Fair. Congratulations to the people of Namyangju City for being chosen to host the International Slow Food Fair AsiO Gusto this year. As diplomats based in Korea, we particularly appreciate this event, because we know very well the importance of good food in our profession. Food is about the people who prepare and eat it, it is the culture of the nation, it is the ecology of the country where it is cultivated, it is the economy of the society who needs its nourishing energy and it is the diplomacy of the state who wants to build friendly and cooperative relations in the international community.

In fact, it is recognized at the highest political level that chefs who cook for the top leaders and negotiators of the world have an invaluable influence on the success of important meetings, because it is well known that one should never discuss with an empty stomach. Therefore, good food, carefully and tastefully prepared is a positive ice breaker for smooth and productive talks.

That is one of the reasons why many governments make efforts to use national food as an important aspect of public diplomacy. It is through food that we learn about different cultures, traditions, nutrition, sustainability and well-being of peoples.

Gourds, pumpkins, sponge gourds forming an arch were among the attractions for the visiting guests.

What we are seeing every day is that modern society, with its hectic “pali-pali” life style, the explosive population growth, the depletion or endangerment of some species and the massification of production is yielding to the bad side of globalization, by increasing material comfort, but decreasing happiness.

We must recover quality in our lives, without waiving our responsibility in working for the improvement of situation of the less privileged people. By enhancing new value to the local production, to the pristine quality of ingredients and to the artisanal skills of those chefs who cook with love, we are in fact promoting the convergence of producers and customers, environment and sustainability, economic growth and cultural wealth.

This is the reason why the unique qualities of slow food make our bodies healthy and our minds clear by warming our hearts. It recovers the wisdom of our ancestors and projects it to the perpetuation of our descendants. It is for this reason that Carlo Petrini, founder of slow food movement has been awarded in September 28, 2013, the highest recognition by the United Nations Environmental Program, the “UNEP Champions of the Earth Award”, for promoting the defense of local traditions, the protection of local biodiversity, the enhancement of small scale quality products and giving new value to food production in developing countries.

I congratulate once again and thank Mayor Lee Seok for giving us the privilege of attending this opening ceremony of the International Slow Food Fair. Mayor Lee Seok-Woo and the people of Namyangju deserve our enormous gratitude for giving us opportunity to learn the unique varieties of foods and drinks of 44 different countries of Asia and Oceania at his AsiO Gusto Fair

2013, which we will not fail to enjoy each and every one of them and cherish in our memories and stomachs. k

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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