Korean food = #trend
by Daniel Gray
William Drew, at the Asia's 50 Best Restaurant event in Singapore hiply answered his thoughts on Korean food, “hashtag trend.” He further expounded, “Korean food is getting popular around the world even in places where there isn’t a large Korean population."
As the world is discovering Korean flavors, social and economic trends are changing the food landscape in Korea. Here are some of the other keywords and concepts popular right now in Korea.
#배달에프 = delivery app
A recent survey reported that only 7% of Koreans cook at home. Busy schedules dictate that families don't have time to eat together these days. With 70% of the population with smartphones, many are turning to delivery services for their food (WSJ July 2014).
#먹방 = mokbang (eating livecast)
Korea's shifting culture coupled with its super fast internet has given birth to live broadcasts of BJs (broadcast journalists) stuffing themselves with food while socializing with guests in return for stars which can then be exchanged for cash. Traditionally it was considered taboo to eat alone but as more Koreans are living alone and are remaining single, this is a technologically advanced workaround. Some BJs, such as Diva (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-yuT-wS1Qo), make over $10,000 a month doing these live casts.
#스타셰프 =Star Chef
In the past there were only three acceptable jobs by Korea parents: doctor, lawyer or government worker. All other positions, especially a chef was considered uncouth. Now chefs are becoming acceptable because of television programs that are turning them into media stars. Food shows are so hot these days such as the cooking variety show: "Take Care of My Refrigerator.” This show is not a cooking competition per say, but it is more about the personalities and the rapport between chefs and guests. Other shows like Tasty Road take a pair of pretty girls on their journey to discover great eats in Korea. They often feature the chefs and showcase their process and skill. It’s now somewhat acceptable to be a chef in Korea.
#수제 = Handmade
Koreans love handmade food and products. These days handmade beer, bread, cakes, juices are popular and customers want to know the stories behind the foods. Sourcing is popular as more emphasis is place on terroir and production as customers are willing to pay more for organic, local and naturally made foods. This trend is even making its way into department stores and food courts as an emphasis is on gourmet, homemade food instead of brands.
# 스칸디나비아 스타일 = Scandinavian Style
In 2015, IKEA opened its first large store near Seoul to great fanfare. Everyone wanted a piece of the brand that guests stole 2 years worth of IKEA branded pencils from the establishment. Even before IKEA, Koreans have been fans of Scandinavian-style and have imported furniture, kitchen and dining ware and clothes. Scandinavian restaurants and cafes are popular these days.
#허니 버터 = Honey Butter
This year it has all been about Honey Butter. Last year it was organic soft serve with a honeycomb chip. This year everyone is all about the honey butter chip snack (http://www.seouleats.com/2015/04/rant-hey-korea-enough-with-honey-butter.html). Bags of the Calbee Brand Chips sell out in minutes on delivery and are sold on the internet for 8 dollars because over that amount would be illegal. Shop owners will bundle the chips with other more expensive items to take the chips “hostage.”
Photo Credits: by Daniel Gray and Ryunique Restaurant