By Charis Asante-Agvey
Even after five years in Korea, I still marvel every time I see Ghana chocolate, the famous chocolate brand produced by Lotte Confectionary. Not only does it bear my country’s name, it’s also extremely popular in Korea. My cursory investigation indicates that the naming is out of homage to my country, which is one of the world’s leading producers of cocoa. As it turns out, there’s more to Ghana chocolate than meets the eye.
The word Ghana in Hanguel, the Korean writing system makes use of the first two symbols in their correct order. The English equivalent would be a chocolate brand named “abc” (Too late, abc chocolate already exists in Korea). Seeing as it’s also the name of the country, Ghana appears first in a country list in Korean. But for Greece, Ghana would have been the first country in the Pyeongchang Olympics lineup.
With all that connection, I can’t but notice the irony: There’s no Ghana chocolate in Ghana, and no Ghanaian chocolate in Korea. Of course, there’re people like me who travel between the two countries and load up on chocolate while we are at it. However, compared to the mainstream market, that’s negligible. The surprise on my friends’ faces whenever I give them Ghana chocolate screams this loud and clear. And nothing will beat the epiphany my Korean friends experience when their teeth sink into a bar of Ghanaian chocolate.
Both countries have and lack. What Ghana has in homage, Korea lacks in product; and what Korea has in product, Ghana lacks in homage. It’s a lovely chocolate-filled paradox to behold and taste. I will leave the experts to comment on market dynamics, trade regulations and other factors crating this situation. One thing remains clear: chocolate is sweet love to many taste buds, and that experience should be shared. In the meantime, I’ll be in my room biting on some Ghanaian chocolate. When I run out of that, you know what I will be savoring next.
Editor’s note: The writer, Mr. Charis Asante-Agyei, holds a master’s degree from State University of New York, Korea. He has been living in Korea for 4 years and is a self-professed chocoholic.—Ed.