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Bibimbap, a Symbol of Harmony! Updated: 2011-09-13 00:00:00 KST

[Interview : ] "I never thought about quitting, because I was determined to introduce as many people to bibimbap as I possibly could."

[Interview : ] "There are times when we have differences of opinion, but we try to mix like the ingredients of bibimbap all mix together in one bowl. We've been working for the past five months that way, and I'm sure that we will continue to do so for the remaining three months as well."

On April 5th, 2011, five young Koreans set off on a quest to raise awareness about bibimbap. Their challenge is to serve bibimbap one hundred times, all over the world. They have now arrived in North America.

The Bibimbap Backpackers arrived in Los Angeles on the last day of August. They have already set 6 bibimbap tables in North America. This is the next leg of their trip.

[Interview : Kang Sang-kyun, Leader
Bibimbap Backpackers] "We just came from Seattle. We're on our way to introduce bibimbap to the people of Los Angeles."

Bibimbap is a Korean dish beloved by people all over the world. It is made by topping rice with seasoned vegetables and meat, then being mixed together with sesame oil and red pepper paste.

[Interview : Kim Su-chan, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers
] "Bibimbap is nutritionally balanced even when served alone, and it is also a symbol of harmony and unity. This is why we chose to promote bibimbap on our trip."

As soon as they arrive, the Backpackers take off somewhere. What could be more important than cooking[Interview : ] "We came to inquire about opening up a promotional event for college students here."

The most important factor in promotional activities is location, location, location! The Backpackers get help from local Koreans.

After having set 50 bibimbap tables, the Backpackers know which locations are the best! They won't go just anywhere.

[Interview : Kang Sang-kyun, Leader
Bibimbap Backpackers
] "The most important thing is to find a place with a lot of non-Korean foot traffic. We try to find busy areas with relaxed atmospheres to set up our tables."

Bibimbap is greeted with enthusiasm wherever the Backpackers set up their tables! Bibimbap, a strange food from a far away country, is transformed into a familiar, delicious food after each table.

The backpackers have chosen their first spot in LA.

The first step is grocery shopping, and it's a difficult task in every new city, since bibimbab had to customized for each location.

[Interview : Chung Kyu-woon, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers
] "When we were in Europe, people did not want to eat bracken because it was considered a harmful plant there. Then there was the superbacteria outbreak, and we had to take out cucumbers because they were thought to be carriers of the bacteria at first."

At one point

two of the Backpackers suddenly head over to shop for appliances! They check out some rice cookers

[Interview : Chung Kyu-woon, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers] "We normally borrow rice cookers, but in LA we have so many events and so often that it would be impossible to borrow rice cookers each time. So we're just going to buy one."

Now, the work begins.

[Interview : Kim Su-chan, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers
] "It's a lot of mushrooms, right[Interview : PD] "How many people are you planning to serve with all those eggs[Interview : Park Hyun-jin, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers] "We're preparing 500 servings for tomorrow's event."

The Backpackers have divided up the labor to maximize efficiency, but it's still a lot of work.

[Interview : Kim Su-chan, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers] "10 o'clock, 11, 12, 1, 2. I think it's already been 4 hours or so. Today's job will probably take about seven hours."

Finally, it's time to cook! The Backpackers are busy creating bibimbap that will leave a strong first impression on the locals who will try it for the first time.

All of the ingredients are ready, and the bowls of bibimbap are put together one by one. What is the secret to delicious bibimbap[Interview : ? {0015,0044,Chung Kyu-woon, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers] "A well-made bibimbap depends on the freshness of the ingredients."

Of course, the first servings go to the local Koreans who helped out the Backpackers!

[Interview : Chang Kyung-sun, Resident] "It's not only pretty to look at, but also very delicious."

The Backpackers all help themselves as well. Don't they ever get sick of bibimbap[Interview : ] "It's delicious every time I have it. I guess I'm just Korean to the bone."

D-day is here!

The Bibimbap Backpackers set up their 57th bibimbap table at a food festival in the heart of LA. The festival is crowded with eager visitors.

And take a look at that line!

The bibimbap booth is swarmed with people from the moment it opens.

Everyone is curious about bibimbap, which they are seeing for the first time. And the more they learn about bibimbab, the more impressed they get about this dish.

Visitors come one after another, and the Backpackers are thrilled.

[Interview : ] "We don't have enough. We're supposed to serve people as soon as they arrive, but it's so chaotic!"

At this rate, the five hundred servings will run out before the festival closes up!

Why is bibimbap so popular[Interview : Michelle Faraone, Visitor] "The flavors kind of surprised me. I didn't expect so much flavor. I expected it to be a little more rice and egg and bland, but this really pops."

And some people find a whole new way to mix their bibimbap! Does it taste better when it's shaken up[Interview : ] "Amazing.."

[Interview : ] "It's sweet and spicy. I like that."

[Interview : Corey Pullman, Visitor] "I think it's delicious, and this is a great presentation. It's a lot of food for tasteand my mouth is on fire."

[Interview : ] "Bibimbap is delicious!"

[Interview : ? {0015,0044,Chung Kyu-woon, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers] "I think today was just a confirmation that once Korean food is introduced to the world, it will be loved by people everywhere. It feels great knowing that Korean food does not fall short of any other cuisine."

[Interview : Kim Myeong-sik, Member
Bibimbap Backpackers] "As the project continues on, I realize how much our work contributes to promoting Korea and Korean culture. I'm sure now that this is work that is valuable, and work that is really needed for Korea."

[Interview : ] "Bibimbap"

[Interview : ] "Bibimbap"

[Interview : ] "Bibimbap"


These backpackers are like rockstars. They have a touring schedule essentially.
Up next on their itinerary in October is South America where they will be in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.
And in December they'll be back in America on the east coast.
And on the 15th of December after they host their 100th bibimbap booth they'll come back to Korea.
Well guys keep up the good work until then.
Thanks for keeping everyone's bellies full.
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