The Korea Herald


Behind jamboree's halal food efforts

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Aug. 10, 2023 - 14:48

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Scouts pose for a photo while holding Qibla finders at the World Scout Jamboree site in Saemangeum, North Jeolla Province. (Certified New Halal Industry Association) Scouts pose for a photo while holding Qibla finders at the World Scout Jamboree site in Saemangeum, North Jeolla Province. (Certified New Halal Industry Association)

South Korea has bolstered efforts to offer diverse catering services for the World Scout Jamboree, taking particular care to offer adequate halal food options for Muslim Scouts.

"Currently, we are aiming to create a halal ecosystem for the remaining 2,160 scouts in North Jeolla Province," said Lee Kwan-youn, the president of the Certified New Halal Industry Association and the CEO of Pacific Korea, a Korean textile retailer.

Together with Wonkwang University, a university in North Jeolla Province which practices Won Buddhism, Lee said the institutions are jointly ramping up efforts to provide halal catering services to some 2,160 Scouts who decided to remain in North Jeolla Province.

"The initial plan was to cook up halal meals for Muslim Scouts and provide separate halal catering services in the official Jamboree camping area. However, now that the Scout members have dispersed throughout the nation, it's difficult to provide proper halal services to the Scouts," Lee said.

To address this, Wonkwang University has been established as a safe hub for Muslim Jamboree Scouts, Lee added.

"We've restocked all the cooking utensils in the university kitchen with brand-new ones, as all halal food needs to be prepared using utensils that have never touched pork before," Lee said.

"We are also offering bidet-installed toilets ... (and) we've set up shower curtains in the ladies' shower rooms (for privacy). We are additionally bringing in halal food from a certified halal restaurant in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province, for meals, since there are no such restaurants in the vicinity," Lee said.

In addition, Lee said his association distributed Qibla finder stickers to Jamboree Scouts when they were at the campsite, a move that was met with enthusiasm. Qibla finders help identify the direction of the sacred shrine of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

"Korea is not a halal-friendly environment. However, we are doing all we can to let Jamboree Scouts with diverse religious backgrounds comfortably enjoy their stay in Korea," Lee said.

Korean industries are also bolstering efforts to cater to Muslim Scouts.

LG Electronics said Tuesday it provided lodgings for Jamboree Scouts, including Muslim Scouts, at its accommodation facility in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. According to the tech firm, separate prayer rooms and meals cooked via halal-certified processes were provided for Muslim Scouts.

Ourhome, the official sponsor of the food service, said it also accepted pre-orders of dietary-specific menu options for global Jamboree Scouts.

"As the official sponsor of the food service, one of the main concerns was to cater to the needs of participants of diverse backgrounds. During their stay in Korea, we hope such needs were adequately met," said an Ourhome official.