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Delicious Frizzled Ramen

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Hello! I am Kkobuli (“frizzled” in Korean). Ramen, or instant noodles, is a food widely loved by Koreans - as a main dish, snack, or a late-night meal - for its delicious taste, simplicity of cooking, and low price. According to WINA (World Instant Noodles Association), 3.6 billion packages of ramen are sold in Korea annually, making the country number six in the world in ramen purchases. In other words, every Korean eats 75 servings of ramen a year, which is more than twice as often as in Japan, the home of ramen. So Korea ranks first in the world in ramen consumption. What’s more, people around the world - in Japan, the US, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East - prefer Korean ramen to instant noodles made in other countries.
Despite my old-fashioned curly hair, I am a big star in the food industry. Do you want to be a star like Korean ramen? I think that it is a little bit difficult, because being a star has to be in your innate nature. But don’t worry. I’ll let you know all about my history. Perhaps, it will reveal some secrets that may help you.

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Is It Food? It Looks Like Thread!


The history of Korean ramen was not an easy journey in the beginning. Instant noodles were first introduced to the country in 1963. Korea was one of the world’s poorest countries at that time. Ramen products were released to alleviate food shortages. The price of a cup of coffee then was USD$0.03 (now USD$4.40) but ramen was sold for USD$0.01. Nevertheless, the Korean public ignored ramen at first because they thought it looked like thread. It was not until the government organized tasting events around the country under the slogan “Ramen Is a Food” that Koreans started to eat ramen.
The Spicy Taste Makes Men Cry
As ramen was becoming more and more popular, many new types of ramen were created. “Shin Ramyun,” a spicy brand of Korean instant noodles, was among them. With its chewy noodles and spicy soup cooked with fried pepper and meat, it went straight to the No. 1 position in the ramen industry. The key to success was consideration of Koreans’ love of spicy tastes. Before Shin Ramyun was released, Korean ramen was quite mild. Shin Ramyun caught the eyes of the Japanese, and captured their taste, too. It has been exported to Japan since 1997. In 2004, TV Tokyo Corporation, one of the major Tokyo television stations, broadcast a program where Shin Ramyun was described as an international luxury brand.

Sick of the Same Taste? Pick Among Various Types of Ramen to Your Liking!

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However delicious the food is, you’ll be fed up with the same taste after some time. That is why Korean companies have been striving to produce ramen with different tastes. Growth in exports of Korean ramen is also contributing to the trend. Various-tasting ramen pleases the appetite of consumers: there are cheese ramen, spaghetti ramen, naengmyeon (Korean cold noodles), curry ramen, rabokki (toppoki ramen), jajang ramen (noodles with black bean sauce), and many others. Healthy ramen, which is low in calories and not fried, has also been developed.


2011 Korean Food Trend: White Soup Ramen

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A trend in 2011 in Korea was ramen with white soup. Before then, Koreans had had a stereotype that “red is the color of Korean ramen soup.” But a famous Korean comedian broke the stereotype by inventing ramen with white soup on a TV variety show and launching it in the market. To achieve a refreshing and spicy taste, the comedian made the ramen soup with chicken broth, green pepper, and eggs. The new ramen started to sell like hot cakes, inspiring other Korean ramen companies to develop their own brands of white soup ramen.

2012 Will Be the Real Boxing Match Among Ramen!
This year, the white ramen fever has been subsiding, but ramen brands are firing up the competition to release other new types of ramen: rice ramen, brown soup ramen, ramen with garlic, mixed chicken and pork broth ramen, and so on. Who will be the winner of 2012? Hard to guess? In fact, the answer is easier than you might think since it’s up to you to decide the winners.

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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