The Korean Wave in Singapore’s Multi-cultural Food Scene: Indigenization, Localization, Hybridization and Cross-Pollination

  • Tai Wei Lim


Food culture is a form of cultural soft power (if one utilizes a broader definition of the term) encompassing and propagated through non-military, economic and cultural means of influence. It is a form of persuasion without the need to resort to force. While food anthropologists have made inroads into studying the subject matter, political scientists and international relations (IR) experts have hardly touched the topic at all. When food cultures are termed as authentic, cultural norms in terms of food consumption are reinforced within a community. At the same time, when this food product is exported to other countries, localization takes place for achieving greater resonance with local consumers. The original food product may even incorporate local features for more effective marketing and sales. This writing examines the reception of Korean food culture in Singapore as a form of soft cultural diplomacy through multi-disciplinary historical surveys, observation case studies and area studies perspectives.


Diplomacy Korean Food culture Soft power Hybridization People-to-people exchanges 


  1. Kim, So-Hyun, “Korean restaurants boom in Singapore” dated 11 April 2016 in Today online website [downloaded on 12 October 2018], available at
  2. Seoul magazine, “Bibimbap A Dish Full on Taste and Nutrients” in the Visit Korea website [downloaded on 1 October 2018], available at

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tai Wei Lim
    • 1
  1. 1.Singapore University of Social SciencesSingaporeSingapore

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