The Reopening of Korea from one of Korea’s most proactive residents.
Alex talks reopening with Kate Kalinova, Project Manager at AustCham Korea, Director and Korea Correspondent for Asia Options and perhaps the busiest person in South Korea right now.
Kate is the ideal person to talk about the reopening of Korea. As Korea progresses with its reopening, Kate has been attending, Defense Expos, Australia-Korea 60th year anniversary functions and perhaps most passionately the Seoul International Café Show.
Kate and Alex deep dive into the Australian Coffee culture, at last count Australians drink approximately two and a half times the amount of coffee that Koreans drink. At the Seoul International Café Show, you can sense the difference in Australian coffee styles. Different blends, roasting methods, and most of all different coffee concoctions. The flat white reigns supreme in Australia but is very hard to come by in Korea.
On a more serious note, Alex and Kate discuss the current supply chain security issues affecting Korea now. For many people, it seems almost unbelievable that a country could be suffering from a urea shortage. However, that’s exactly what is happening, due to cutbacks in Chinese supply, Korean farmers and diesel operators are facing severe shortages. As part of the emergency response, the Korean government is flying in 20,000 liters liquid urea from Australia in a C130 Hercules.
On a broader front, the Australian-Korean economic partnership has taken another step with the setting up of the Australia Korea Low and Zero Emissions Technology Partnership. In the wake of COP26 this entity is designed to enable technology exchanges in the areas of hydrogen and other technologies to accelerate both country’s move to a low and then zero carbon economy.
Kate also lets us know about korea.net a website hosted by the Korean Ministry of Culture Sport and Tourism. They are currently recruiting volunteer reporters to showcase various aspects of Korean culture to the world. Drop them a line if you are interested.
Kate describes the joy she has diving into Korean culture and discovering unexpected treasures like Korea’s oldest bakery, or a hidden garden.
The Reopening of Korea from one of Korea’s most proactive residents.
Alex Jensen: You’re listening to Koreabizcast with the KBLA. I’m Alex Jensen and it’s Wednesday, November 10th. Somehow South Korea is facing serious disruption across an array of sectors and not caused by COVID-19 at least not directly. The government’s desperately trying to secure urea supplies referring to a kind of nitrogen used for fertilizer, as well as being essential to running modern diesel vehicles. We’d become reliant on China here, but China’s stopped overseas urea shipments. Now we’ll have to revisit some of the potentially profound impacts of this, but it does highlight the importance of diversifying supply chains and perhaps that something you, listening here in Korea or anywhere in the world could contribute to Australia may well be part of the solution to the urea shortage based on reports. And on today’s episode, we’ll touch on that, as well as hearing about a must visit event for coffee lovers in Seoul. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to check us out KBLA via LinkedIn so we can keep you up to date with everything we’re doing.
Alex Jensen: Now then, ever since we spoke to Kate Kalinova from AustCham Korea, we’ve been keen to get her back on to hear more about her activities as project manager. Not sure many people are actually busier than her right now. Plus, she’s working on an event this week dedicated to one of my favorite beverages, coffee. So, let’s say hello to Kate and thank you very much for being with us.
Kate Kalinova: Thanks, Alex. It’s a real pleasure to be back again on your podcast and definitely very excited for the upcoming Seoul Cafe Show this week. So, it’s a big week.
Alex Jensen: So, can we just call you our AustCham Corresponde bnjmk,,klkl nt now?
Kate Kalinova: That’s a nice title. Yes, why suppose just to the Project Manager, I like that.
Alex Jensen: How are you doing this week, by the way with the whole living with COVID thing now something like in full swing?
Kate Kalinova: Well, I think definitely since the last time we caught up there’s been a significant change and I guess the business sector and AustCham operation, so it seems that the end of the zoo age and virtual engagement is upon us. So definitely we’re seeing an increasing return to offline meetings, offline events. So, AustCham team has been attending a lot of different expos in the recent weeks. For example, there was the huge aerospace and defense Expo ADEX 2021, which was an amazing experience and as part of the 60th anniversary of Australia-Korea diplomatic ties, Australian government actually hosted a booth of the event and run, ran some business seminars, as part of the defense industry engagement which is quite interesting. And so, this week as well, we’ve seen this maybe we attended a defense industry seminar this morning and then later this week, there is of course, the Seoul International Cafe Show and Australia is the feature country this year which is very exciting. So, they’ll have this be a big Australian booth with a lot of Australian cafes and coffee roasters present at the show and even some special activities as well.
Alex Jensen: Here there is a bit of activity going on about you in the office there and that’s perhaps how offices should be we should be celebrating that. What’s it like for you going from not just that bustle, but from defense to coffee and everything in between? Do you enjoy that kind of diversity?
Kate Kalinova: Yeah, absolutely. Alex, I think no day is ever the same and the life of about AustCham team. So, we’re working across different industries with all kinds of different companies. So, and that’s really, I guess, one of the highlights of working for Chamber of Commerce. And so, you know, we get to attend a lot of these industry Expos. So, there’s a lot of food related Expo, agribusiness now defense, you know, I think, and the Austrade team in the embassy are also doing a lot of exciting things even beyond AustCham like I heard that they had a delegation down in Busan for the Seafood Expo recently as well. But I guess the little bit the difference between the Austrade team and AustCham is that while they have targeted representatives for different sectors, we work across a whole range of the relationship, so yeah, one day is defense or even one morning is defense and then we had a coffee catch up with some community partners for the Australia-New Zealand association and Korea. And so, they’re recently reelected their committee and we had a nice catch up with them about a potential event collaboration that we can be looking at in the future. And at the same time, we’re working on different webinars and events with our member companies. For example, we just talked in a webinar with a law firm SHIN & KIM, and you know, so that’s really exciting. We get to deal with a lot of different people and do a lot of different kinds of things and a lot of the decision making, and the discussion happens over coffee, the Cafe Show or at the local Aussie style FOURB cafe in Gwanghwamun.
Alex Jensen: We met there too, and it’s doing really well that particular brand, they have a number of locations now and several that I would have in my rotation in Seoul.
Kate Kalinova: Um, just to chime in Alex actually, I don’t know if you’re aware, but in November the FOURB’s doing a special 60th anniversary Australia blend promotion, so you can try some Aussie blend coffee at FOURB all around, I think all around the city. So, it’s definitely something that makes it worth dropping by in this month to make sure that you give it a try either at the Cafe Expo or one of the FOURB branches in your area.
Alex Jensen: Staying with coffee, this Seoul Cafe Show that you’ll be involved in Kate. Can you tell us more about it?
Kate Kalinova: Oh, I think it’s definitely a must attend event for any coffee lovers out there. And for industry professionals, so you get to experience a lot. Everything from coffee roasting, so it’d be a lot of different coffee roasters participating from different countries including local Korean roasters, and also those Australian coffee roasters participating in that Australian pavilion where you get to you know, experience coffee machines, different espresso machines, different filter techniques. There’s I think there’s even some lectures of like barista, not championships, but different kinds of events involving actual hands-on experience of what are the different techniques involved in making coffee including I think on Wednesday, there’s going to be an interesting talk, discussing a demonstration discussing the difference between Sydney style and Melbourne style coffees, and that should be interesting to check out. And other than that,
Alex Jensen: So, what is the difference as far as you’re aware?
Kate Kalinova: Well, that’s the question, I guess. I will find out tomorrow, today actually.
Alex Jensen: Yes because, we’re recording this on the eve of so tell us? Why do Australians love coffee so much? I mean, it does seem the passion to go to another level there.
Kate Kalinova: Yeah, absolutely. I think coffee is a huge part of Australian culture. And there’s definitely some unique elements that make up that coffee culture, and give it that Hoju style a reputation, I suppose. But I think that I mean, you talked a little bit about the different style of roasting and the flavors of coffee beans, but I think when people think of Australian coffee, you really think about the combination of coffee and milk. So of course, the coffee flavor and there’s a strong emphasis on, you know, dark roasted beans and that strong, mature coffee flavor. But at the same time, it’s all about that combination and balance with well frosted fresh milk and there’s a huge emphasis on froth technique, making sure that there’s a certain amount of centimeters for certain drinks, certain amount of milk versus froth ratio. And then of course, there’s different latte art as well, that you just don’t really see to the same extent here in Korea. And I think that’s one of the key differences between the coffee culture so and of course, the iconic Australian flat white coffee is a part of that and one interesting thing that I wanted to touch upon as someone who personally really loves coffee and I mean, we’ve talked about it before, a lot of Australian meetings here AustCham, a lot of business meetings are conducted over a cup of coffee. So, it’s a huge issue if you’re invited to a business meeting and you’re not ordering a coffee. It’s like not eating kimchi, you know, so, cultural front, really, so the Aussie spirit. I think it’s very interesting that even within the flat white kind of label since you are seeing increasing amounts of Hoju style coffee openings here in Korea, the flat white in Korea is a little bit different to the actual Australian counterpart. So, one culture shocks a lot of Australians experiences when they order a flat white here in Seoul, sometimes it comes in a glass, and this is a big no no in Australia because the flat white is typically served in a mug, and it has a very like it’s flat and that is where the name comes from. So, it’s not supposed to have lots of froth. And on the other hand, a latte in Australia served in a glass and so you can see the one centimeter of froth doubting its latte status and here in Korea flat white it serves in a glass and often have froth. So then, you know, I became very fascinated by this topic and maybe wonder what is it that constitutes a flat why in Korea, and some coffee vlog reading online has led me to understand that actually, the key characteristic of a flat white here in Korea is that strong coffee flavor that is carry through the milk and so sometimes the flat white coffee has less milk ratio than a latte in Korea, which is very milky. And yeah, and there is differentiation amongst cafes as to whether it is served in a glass or cup. So, it’s really quite interesting.
Alex Jensen: FOURB has two flat whites on their menu, the nine ounce and the five ounces as well.
Kate Kalinova: That’s right, but the nine element is actually a lotta and you can see that in the brackets, so.
Alex Jensen: Right? Well, just a few facts about this, by the way, cafeshow.com, the 2021 edition that runs from today through to Saturday the 13th, COEX, south of the river in Seoul. 600 exhibitors, 2,000 booths, 40 countries involved expecting 160,000 visitors from 80 countries despite COVID. That’s amazing and country of honor Australia. So, we’re talking to the right person and Kate, you were at the show just before the pandemic struck based on that experience, what might people expect at least some of this time?
Kate Kalinova: Well, I think that you’ve given them a little bit of a taste with that discretion of 600 vendors are worth you know, you’re expecting hundreds of people, there was huge crowds. So, I definitely recommend going early on in the day, as we know, Koreans tend to wake up a little late, especially on weekends. So go as early as you can at 10am to try to avoid that huge rush of people. But in some cases, I suppose it’s unavoidable so be ready for it. it’s a great experience. So, in 2019, there was you know, you could try a lot of different coffees. There were even some vendors specializing in different latte art. I think, there was different, yeah, country booth as well. I remember Colombia was represented as well, and so in many Australian cafes in that year, and of course, also bakery, baked goods, appliances, black coffee for hand drip coffee. You know, if you’re in a Cafe Expo in Korea, there’s no way you’re going to avoid some nice hand drip coffee, which is the signature of the Korean coffee culture. Actually, I’m also a fan of the hand drip show that Ozzy in the office didn’t really approve of my choices. But yeah, I really love fruity Korean, like coffee blends which is really special.
Alex Jensen: And this is where you get into different regions, different kinds of process like natural versus washed and with natural, you can get all kinds of flavors, you wouldn’t associate with coffee. But we’ve got other things to talk about here as well. So much in the way of bilateral relations Australia seems to be everywhere in terms of the energy conversation, COP26, Korea looming diesel disaster. Are these influencing conversations in your work?
Kate Kalinova: Yeah, absolutely. Alex, as you’ve touched upon COP26, It’s great to see both, you know, Australian and Korean leaders attend the conference. And it’s definitely a trend that we’ve been seeing here the chamber as well. Renewables is a growing area of interest as something that is, you know, a space for new and deepening Australia, Korea cooperation and partnerships. And so, hydrogen is one of the key buzzwords but apart from that you also see a lot going on in the critical minerals supply chain which I think we’ve touched upon briefly in our last discussion as well. And since we caught up, actually, Australia and Korea have announced the signing of a low emissions and technology partnership, let me just double check the name, it’s a little bit wordy. So yeah, Australia and Korea, low and zero emissions technology partnerships. That’s another key milestone in the Australia Korea bilateral relationship and something that we are expecting to have repercussions in deepening the opportunities for companies to partner in this renewables space, which is very exciting for both the chamber and embassy moving forward. And I guess, in addition to what you mentioned about the diesel disaster and trends that are kind of underpinning the discussion in the trade relations more generally is one theme that seems to come up quite a lot in recent months is this idea of trade diversification. So, this is both the diversification and the sectors of engagement within Australia, Korea bilateral relationship but also the diversification for Australia and for Korea to make sure that, you know, they have a secure supply chain that is not limited to one, one partner in the region, but is sustainable in the long term. And so, there’s a lot of discussions about Australia’s role as a very stable and sort of transparent partner in that supply chain for Korea including in the critical mineral space but also in supplying other key materials as well.
Alex Jensen: How do these specific examples, though, influence overall bilateral relations?
Kate Kalinova: Well, I mean, for us as a chamber, it’s great that we’re having much more inquiries from different sectors, much more engagement in new discussions, let’s say, from offshore wind farm specialists or people who specialize and let’s say, the rare earth minerals so you know, it’s a decisive kind of material that otherwise maybe they wouldn’t have been interested in the Korean market. But suddenly, here it is, it’s making international and local media headlines. There’s a lot of buzz about the activity that’s going on, and it’s creating more buzz, it’s creating more excitement about the opportunities that are out there and I think companies are looking for engagement with Korea, maybe otherwise, when they otherwise might not have considered it in the past. And so, I think that what we’ve seen as well, all this activity at the industry, or corporate level, which has been really exciting, has also echoed a graduate increasing alignment between Australia and Korea at a diplomatic level which has been quite significant as well. So, for example, recently we had the Australian and Korean 2 + 2 meeting hosted here in Seoul with the Australian foreign minister and Defense Minister, actually flying to Korea which has been a very significant step, and there is a discussion over the elevation of Australia-Korea relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership. So, it’s clear that all this activity at the industry level, you know, it’s not just about trade, it’s about an alignment at a diplomatic at that higher level between Australia-Korea as allied nations with a lot of common interests in the international arena more broadly.
Alex Jensen: Good luck fostering those relationships. And, by the way, how do you have time to do all this Kate, and still blog about Korean culture?
Kate Kalinova: Well, you know, I think what AustCham teaches, use to be able to juggle many different projects and different kinds of engagements. And I guess, I take it one step further and Korean culture is something I’m very interested about. So, I tried to make time to kind of go on weekend trips exploring traveling Korea via some new neighborhoods around Seoul or exploring another city around the peninsula. And there’s always more to learn and to explore. So, I think that’s one of the really great perks of living here in Korea and in Asia more broadly, you know, you want to be in touch with that local ecosystem and their deep history and culture and I think, I guess writing about that culture gives me an outlet to delve deeper in some of these topics for example, Hanok, Makgeolli, Hanbok all things that I’m very interested in. And so actually, I did want to give a shout out to one of these annual programs that fellow culture enthusiasts may like to apply for. So, something called korea.net, a website hosted by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. They have an annual recruitment of honorary reporters, which is basically a voluntary, volunteer position where you get to write blogs about Korean culture, travel or different events, either in Korea or abroad. So, this is quite an interesting opportunity because people who are based in Korea and those who are based overseas and kind of craving that engagement with Korea from abroad can tap into. So, I think the recruitment opens up the start of the year, maybe January or February, so just keep an eye out on the korea.net Facebook page. I think it may be called Korea clickers. But yeah, just check it out. And I highly recommend apply for those who are interested in that.
Alex Jensen: So, I can see your latest post is on the oldest bakery in Korea, which people might want to check out. How can we find you? What’s the easiest way?
Kate Kalinova: Yeah, so I think the korea.net website and the Talk Talk Korea section is the special page that’s dedicated to the content by honoring reporters. So definitely, that’s the best way to set it up. And speaking of culture, Alex’s. One of the fascinating of Korean cultural traditions that I’ve really enjoyed learning about and experiencing here in Korea has been the Korean birthday tradition of seaweed soup. So, as I understand it, it was you celebrated your birthday yesterday. So, I’m curious to ask did you enjoy some seaweed soup to start off the day?
Alex Jensen: No, but I’m not against it. I do think it is an acquired taste.
Kate Kalinova: Actually, I do really enjoy Korean seaweed soup but um, I prefer the one with beef. So, I know there’s actually quite a lot of different variations you can enjoy with seafood, shellfish, but the classic beef and seaweed recipe is my personal favorite. So, I do recommend some listeners who are brave enough to give it a try. Check it out.
Alex Jensen: Indeed. Well, thank you very much for sharing several of your projects and inspiring us I think, at least a few of us to check out the Cafe Show at COEX.
Kate Kalinova: Thanks, Alex. Hope to see you at the Cafe Show or at another time at FOURB for some coffee.
Alex Jensen: Kate Kalinova there and thank you everybody for joining the podcast today even as a listener but if you want to be more active, you can get in touch with us email email@example.com. Maybe you’ve got a story that you think we all need to hear about. This is a platform for anybody who’s interested in Korea and business from the outside, from the inside. All perspectives welcome and all that’s left to say is look forward to seeing you again tomorrow.