Have You Ever Tasted Sookmyung Wine?
Lee Kim Sooyeon  |  smt_sw@sm.ac.kr
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승인 2013.11.08  00:18:52
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                                                                              PHOTO BY LSY


What comes to mind when you think of Sookmyung Women’s University?  ROTC cadets?  A snowflake?  A Blue Ribbon?  Now an increasing number of people say Sookmyung Wine.  Similarly, at Korea University many people, who are not university students, visit the university to taste its bread.  Nowadays universities are making food products like Sookmyung Women’s University Wine, Korea University Bread and Seoul National University Chocolate.  Have you ever heard of these products?  Have you ever eaten or drunk those brands?

Gucci? Chanel? No, it’s a University Brand!

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Seoul National University manufactures Seoul National University Doenjang (soybean paste), which is made using only domestic raw materials.  At first, the university sold its Doenjang to only its teaching staff, but nowadays, the school sells Seoul National University Doenjang to the general public.  Also, it sells Seoul National University Chocolate through an Internet Shopping mall.  Sogang University manufactures Sogang Ramen (instant noodles), which contains less sodium than other ramen made by commercial companies.  Because it contains less salt, it is known as a healthy ramen among netizens, and many people buy it.  One netizen writing under the nickname Mazing-ga wrote, “Although Sogang Ramen is low calorie food, it tastes better than other ramen, so I often buy Sogang Ramen.”Similarly, Korea University bakes bread and sells the bread from the university bakery, which is located on school grounds.  Choi, a high school student's parent said, “I go to Korea University to buy its bread.  My son is a high school senior who wants to enter Korea University, so I feed him Korea University Bread in hopes he attains a good result on the university’s alternative admission process.”  Today many universities have started to make and sell food products.  This new trend among universities results in food that is healthier and cheaper than company products.  University products are of higher quality, so more and more people seek these university brand name food products.


                              PHOTO BY LSY                 www.yonhapnews.co.kr                         www.google.com  


Jump into Food Business

Universities have started to enter the food business.  Why are they jumping into it so quickly?  These days, universities are facing financial hardships.  Because of mandatory college tuition cuts by the government, financial difficulties have started.To solve the problem, universities needed to find new channels of funding.  The result was entering the food industry, so now there are numerous university brand name food products.  Since starting to sell food to the general public, Korea University has earned 400 million won a year with its bread and Sookmyung Women’s University Wine has sold roughly 2000 bottles of its wine in just 3 months since its launch.  Sogang Ramen is sold via an Internet Shopping mall and loved by many netizens.  Now, the extra budget money is being used in a variety of ways at the universities.  One Korea University respondent said, “We use income earned from Korea University Bread for student scholarships and laboratory support.”  Also, universities are jumping into the food industry because they want to improve university image.  For its healthiness, reasonable pricing, and high quality, university food is being hailed by ordinary people.  Also, carved logos on the food, wrapping paper and/or packaging promotes the university’s name.  Because of a better image and more publicity, universities are better able to promote their schools.  Therefore, entering the food industry kills two birds with one stone.  Universities earn needed money and they can promote the university name at the same time.  Therefore, the food business is a hot potato at universities.





Is a University Commercial Company?

Many people nowadays enjoy university brand food.  However, there are some people who are expressing concern about universities entering the food business.  These people are worried about the commercialization of universities.  When universities sell food products, they lose the objective of a university: academics.  Kwon Goeun, Department of Food & Nutrition ’12 said, “A university is not a company, so when I see products sold by a university, I feel uncomfortable.  A university is a place to learn.  It is not a place of retail.”  Kim, an employee said, “Universities are now concentrating on making new items for profit.  To solve their financial difficulty, universities need to adjust tuition fees first.”  Both are fervent responses and serious concerns about the university food industry.  Indeed, development of new items for a university to promote and earn profits is needed.  However, the university name should only be used to promote a university.  Once universities start concentrating on earning profit by riding the schools’ names, big problems in society can arise, which leads to university students losing faith in the nature of a university.  Whatever a university does, the most important thing is to protect the academic nature of a university.


           PHOTOS BY LSY














1 Yoo Wonjung,  “Korea University Bread, Seoul National University Chocolate… Different Colored Food Among Universities,”  Nocutnews,  June 22,  2013

2 Kim Kyungsu, “University Town Meets Financial Difficulty but Finds its Way in the Food Business,” Financialnews,  November 1,  2012



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