S. Korea may soon have a taste of Malaysian flavours

SEOUL - More South Koreans will get to savour popular Malaysian delights like roti canai, otak-otak and satay if the plan to bring the "Malaysia Kitchen" programme to the country takes off.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia planned to replicate the programme - which has succeeded in Australia, Britain and Japan - in South Korea as part of its branding effort.

He said at present there was only one authentic Malaysian restaurant in the Korean capital while there was an increasing number of Korean restaurants in Malaysia.

"There are currently 450 Malaysian restaurants under this programme operating worldwide and they have been quite a hit in Japan," he told Malaysian journalists here yesterday.

He is here as part of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's delegation for a two-day official visit to South Korea.

He cited the example of the latest Malaysian food festival organised by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation in Yokohama as being successful in introducing Malaysian fare to people in the Japanese port city.

Over 3 million yen (S$33,100) worth of Malaysian food, which included roti jala, roti canai, otak-otak and various types of sauce, were snapped up by the Japanese at the two-day event over the weekend.

On the dialogue between Najib and the Korean captains of industry today, Mustapa said those who had confirmed their attendance included Samsung Electronics vice-president Kim Do-hyon, Kia Motors executive vice-president Oh Tae-hyun, LG Electronics president Dr Lee Woo-jong and Lotte Chemical Titan president and CEO Kim Gyo-hyun.

"There is vast potential in further exploring business collaborations. We are looking at both new initiatives and additional investments to projects already established in Malaysia," he added.

Underlining the importance of South Korea as a trading partner, Mustapa said its companies were among the major investors in Malaysia, ranking second with approved investments amounting to US$1.67 billion (S$2.2 billion) last year.

From Jan to Sept, South Korea has remained among the top 10 foreign investors with approved investments valued at US$472 million (S$621 million) in electronics and electrical goods, basic metal products, plastic items and wood products.