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No ‘five-star’ hotels without Korean restaurants: minister

Culture Minister Choung Byoung-gug said on Tuesday local hotels should not be granted a “five-star” rank if they do not have a restaurant specializing in Korean cuisine.

Korean hotels are rated differently from western ones, being rated by the number of mugunghwa, or Rose of Sharon they are awarded. Top hotels in Korea have five mugunghwa.

Choung’s comments came several weeks after he vowed to take a “stern measure” on the Shilla Seoul, one of Korea’s top hotels, for turning away a customer wearing hanbok. The hotel came under fire after turning away Lee Hye-soon, a designer of the Korean traditional dress, from its restaurant saying she was getting in the way of other guests by wearing one.

In the wake of the hanbok controversy, public sentiment turned hostile toward top hotels which do not run a Korean restaurant.

“The government will tighten the standard so that hotels will not receive a top rank without a Korean restaurant,” Choung told reporters at a press meeting.

“Regarding the Shilla Seoul issue, the hotel’s vice president came to see me and I suggested the hotel establish a Korean restaurant,” he said.

“The Shilla Seoul said it will consider it positively.”

By Kim Yoon-mi (