Food blogging has developed into a powerful tool for both customers and restaurant owners, yet behind the keyboard is controversy over who is writing the reviews and their true motives.

The emergence of so called ‘power bloggers’ on host sites such as Naver and Daum has led some to question if the reviews people are reading are truthful. One blogger and food expert is concerned with the influence of bloggers.

Daniel Grey, Seouleats.com:

“We try to interact with people that are kind of like rising bloggers, not people that are super established, generally, because those people will ask for ridiculous amounts of money. They are, honestly, in it for the money. They’re not in it to write an actual review. If someone will pay them enough money they will write them a glowing review on their blog.”

One local restaurant owner plays an active role updating and promoting his business through his own blog and checks search engines such as Naver for reviews of his food. However he claimed that the impact of the reviews was not as strong as people may think.

Says Sean Kim, Bloggers are becoming more important than when I entered this business 3 years ago, but the blog’s importance is not that decisive. I think visitors’ favourable comments through word of mouth is more important, even more than online reviews. But blogs importance is increasing. Being posted on an online restaurant review blog on a big portal site like Naver is great advertising. Especially, because its a marketing strategy that doesn’t cost a lot of money.”

Kim said he wasn’t worried by what bloggers may write, and producing good food and good service is still the most important strategy to increasing customers.

Many business owners have become sensitive to the opinions of bloggers. One restaurant sued a blogger who posted a poor review of his food for the drop in sales it caused. As more young people use search engines and blogs to choose where they eat, the impact of blogging will continue to grow.