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Kim Min-joo named Korea’s top sommelier

May 06,2019
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Sommelier Kim Min-joo of Les Clefs de Crystal smiles after being named Korea Sommelier of the Year. [KOREA SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR]
Kim Min-joo of Seoul wine bar Les Clefs de Crystal won the fifth Korea Sommelier of the Year competition last week, making her the first woman to win the event. She placed third at the same competition last year.

“Studying and working for a certificate or a competition doesn’t guarantee anything, but [when you] put in the [effort], you discover new information and grow to another level,” said Kim, adding that sommeliers actively participating in public events will help consumers understand that the service and beverage industry is just as important as the food at many bars and restaurants.

“The more people understand what sommeliers and service staff do, the more room [there will be] to plan out fun things to do.”

She competed against two other sommeliers - Paul Lee from Tavern 38 in southern Seoul and Cho Hyun-cheol from L’Escape Hotel in central Seoul.

“It is all about getting younger people interested and [allowing] them to think that this actually can be a job and a career,” said master sommelier Ronan Sayburn, who joined the competition as a judge for the first time. “As long as the passion is there, [these competitions] confirm whether you can actually make a career out of it.”

Les Clefs de Crystal, located in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, used to be a members-only bar. Since Kim joined the staff recently, the bar is now open to the public and has been holding a soft opening since last week.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]