Ottogi Chairman Ham Young-joon, left, gives an award to the winner of the grand prize, named Kim Jeong-sook, in an event recognizing the best stories about food held at the Ottogi office in Seoul on May 18. Photo courtesy of Ottogi

66 people picked out of 6,000-plus candidates

South Korean food company Ottogi said on May 18 that it had held a ceremony offering awards to those who came up with moving stories about food.

The Seoul-based outfit launched an event accepting touching and inspiring stories about food last year when some 5,500 people took part.

This year, a total of 6,022 stories were submitted to Ottogi between Feb. 15 and April 5.

Among them, the grand prize was awarded to Kim Jeong-sook, who presented a tale about brown-seaweed soup. Chae Yeon-hee got the second prize with a story about kimchi.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish of fermented vegetables, including cabbage and radish. Various seasonings are used for the country’s most famous food.

“While reading so many stories about food, I was interested and moved as they were about serving food for family members, friends, and lovers,” said essayist Choi Won-hyun, who led the review of the submitted stories.

“I realized that simple food prepared with his or her true heart could be much better than expensive cuisines.”

An Ottogi official said that the company would continue the annual event to promote a new culture of food.

Ottogi history and family

Founded by Ham Tae-ho in 1969, Ottogi has been a trailblazer in the country’s food industry. For example, it was the first Korean company to manufacture soup, ketchup, and mayonnaise.

Founder Ham’s son Ham Young-joon is currently chairman of Ottogi. Its CEO is Hwang Seong-man.

Chairman Ham Young-joon’s daughter of Ham Yeon-ji is also a celebrity as a musical actress. After studying in New York, she starred in “Gone with the Wind” in 2015.

She modeled for an Ottogi commercial. She is also a YouTuber. Her YouTube account has subscribers of more than 450,000.

Hillary Lee studied literature in Seoul. Lee has big interests on various topics including IT, BT, business and finance. Lee can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.