Oppa obsessed with cookery and music | 当玩音乐的韩国欧巴爱上做饭……
He had drifted between several Chinese cities running Korean restaurants before falling in love with a native Wuhan girl and settling down. While he is a committed chef, he has never neglected his career as a musician. Let's enter Lee Chul-hoon's world of "food + music" to unlock the mysteries of his life.
Genuine Korean cuisine in downtown
In the Taiheli Business District, there is a replica of the retro food stall from the Korean TV series Reply 1988. The old movie posters, the wall decorations, the table layout, everything here reminds you of the settings from the TV series and a Korean night market, where you drink, eat, and chat with friends as the protagonists do in "Ssangmundong."
This Korean restaurant opens punctually at 5 in the afternoon. Lee is in charge of the kitchen and he's selective about everything, the food preparation, the ingredients, the flavor, the cookery, and quite frankly, everything else that he enjoys doing.
Many diners come here for its signature specialties such as seafood onion pancakes, fried chicken with cabbage, and stir-fried spicy pork intestine. "We ensure them authentic Korean flavor, and we also keep inventing new recipes that integrate local flavors into Korean cuisine," Lee said. "The highly recommended pork intestine, for example, is what has recently been adapted to Wuhan diners' love for spiciness."
Besides Korean food, Lee hopes that his customers also come to enjoy the other Korean features, the ornaments, Korean TV series, and nostalgia for the 1980s.
Lee busy working in kitchen Photo by Xia Junjun
Settling down in Wuhan
Lee Chul-hoon seems to be quite nomadic.
When Lee first came to Wuhan in 2014, his father had just relocated his Korean barbecue shop in Beijing to Wuhan. Lee really didn't expect to stay, but ultimately, he did stay with his father, running the barbeque at Rxhmall, Hanyang. The restaurant turned out to be a success, but he decided to move on again.
At the end of 2020, he opened another Korean restaurant with Korean friends in Danjiangkou, Shiyan, but a few months later, he decided to quit because his wife was not accustomed to life there and wanted to return to Wuhan. In July this year, he decided to join the Cuis Tri-Son Korean Barbecue and became the co-owner of the business with two other Koreans.
Wuhan is not just another city for business. Lee has now made it his home.
How he met his future wife was like a plot in a Korean idol drama, Lee recalls. One day she and her friends came to his Korean restaurant at Rxhmall, Hanyang, and somehow, he found himself deep in conversation with her about Korean food, dramas, and history. They added each other on WeChat and fell in love with each other over time and then tied the knot. Now they have an adorable kindergartener daughter.
A solid music got talent
As the saying goes, art is long, life is short. Restaurant owner Lee has a hidden secret talent as a musician. Before coming to China, he had been in the music business for more than 20 years in Korea, occasionally serving as a trainee tutor. However, running restaurants has not detached him from his music dream.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea. Lee coauthored the Korean lyrics of the song "Creating the Future Together" early this year. In late August, the song was performed by a student choir from the Wuhan Conservatory of Music, at the National Day banquet held by Korean Consulate General in Wuhan.
As early as June 2020, Lee appeared in "Our Shared Home," a Korea-China joint MV as an anti-epidemic public advertisement.
In the past few years, Lee has tutored many students in vocal music, dozens of whom were Wuhan native admirers, and some even from other cities, Lee told us. "Many got to know my name through friends and acquaintances. Some of them were music enthusiasts, and some came for serious professionalism." Whoever turns to him for vocal training, Lee will always do his best.
Wuhan has developed rapidly in recent years, said Lee Chul-hoon. Metro Line 3 was not yet open to traffic the year when he first came to the city. "Now Line 11 is in operation." More and more Koreans are working and doing business in the city, as can be observed from the increasing number of Koreans frequenting his restaurant.
Wuhan is Lee's second hometown. He has witnessed the fast growth of this hopeful land and has grown with it. We wish him long-term prosperity in his adopted city.
(Edited by Ye Shiyu)