Saturday, August 23, 2008

Seoul - A path towards multi cultural city

During a year stay, I found, Korea, the land of morning calm, is warmly welcoming country towards foreigners. Citizens behave in their highest order of respect toward foreigners and always ready to extend helping hand as and when needed.
Seoul, a global and cosmopolitan city, consists of more than 10 million populations. At present about 2.2 percent of its population are based on foreigners. And the inbound foreign tourists in Korea are about 6 million annually and most of them visit Seoul including other part of the Korea like Busan, Deagu etc.
Every tangible and non tangible entity changes with time to keep it alive. Seoul as a city is also needed certain change to be more friendly to foreigners. This article emphasizes on city’s foods the most basic need of the human being with special reference to the foreigners. Korea’s foods are not only delicious but also possess high level of nutrients. However, most of the Korean foods usually contain meat, which are not Halal. Halal is an Arabic term meaning “permissible”, it refers to food that is permissible by Islamic law. This piece of writing focuses on why halal food in Seoul is advantageous to city government and how it can be done within its purview. It is notable that presently the halal food stuffs and restaurants are located in Itaewan.
It is tough to estimate the halal food consumers among the foreign residents and tourists in Seoul. However, the number will be significantly high around 15-20 percent among them. Beside this the Korean Government’s policies towards Arab countries as well as Arab countries’ policies toward Korea due to its emergence in global economy, would surely extend the number of halal food consumers in Seoul.
A city is not limited to the physical expansion in the form of blocks and towers, but a place to accommodate multiple cultures, thoughts, civilizations, and grow in a pluralistic dimension, especially the cities which are political, economical, and cultural capital of country like Seoul.
Around the globe, things are immensely changing, for example, multinational companies associated with fast food or restaurants chains are also projecting themselves as a producer of halal food stuffs like halal burger, halal pizza and so on. The halal food markets are working globally, for example, in US, UK, Canada, Australia etc. In the same way cities can also project themselves for a place where anyone can satisfy with their need and most importantly their basic need like food. Truly speaking, this type of problem is not significant in other part of the world as in Seoul. The Indian cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi etc, for example, have no problem of halal food because India got this system from their inheritance. Against it, Korea doesn’t possess, it is very new for Muslim and their culture. However, the Korean Government policies toward east will definitely change the pattern in near future. Therefore there is need to understand the emerging dynamics and to explore and adopt it to enhance city’s performance on these parameters.
But now question is how it could be advantageous to city government. First, it would enhance its face value towards pro-halal consumers. It is worth to note that Muslim populations are about 1.6 billion (about 20-25 percent of world population) which only consume halal food and beside that this can be equally consumed by natives too. Secondly, a tourist can extend their stay in Seoul if they will get culturally acceptable food which will definitely enhance tourism economy. Thirdly, halal food market is emerging market either in the form of informal sector or small market; the city government can enhance economy by expanding halal food market in Seoul and its vicinity.
Now the next question arises within the purview of City’s government how it can be expanded. The City government can facilitate to channelize it in Seoul. It can be done by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Muslim organization of Korea, like Korea Muslim Federation. The City government can provide some incentive for keeping halal food stuff in selected city based daily need existing shops. Seoul government can promote some Korean restaurants as a hub for halal restaurant which will prove Seoul as a sacred place for halal food consumer which will enhance it on tourism perspective.
In the same way, Seoul is also educational hub of not only Korea but it is also emerging Asian educational hub. This system can be implemented in Universities too. Almost all of the universities have from a couple to dozens of cafeterias. The university can dedicate a restaurant to serve only halal meats and vegetables. It is worth to note that in Korean Universities have cafeterias and not attached dining hall system against Indian Universities and in general students have no choice to cook but to eat at cafeteria. If it is not possible to dedicate one cafeteria for halal food then at least part of one restaurant can be easily dedicated to halal foods and vegetables. By doing the same, the Korean Universities can cope cultural differences and attract more students especially from Arab countries. This article is based on perception and some interviews with halal food consumer. An in-depth research can be conducted on the modalities of halal food market in Seoul. I am well convinced that it will add a new dimension to Seoul in socio-cultural and religious besides providing an economical opportunity to Seoul government.

1 comment:

Sohail said...

I would love to see comments of my fellow friends.


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