How K-drama pushed the growth of Korean food culture in India
How K-drama pushed the growth of Korean food culture in India

Covid-19 has brought many new changes into our lives and one of those changes is the way we consumer food. Binge watching has given rise to many new cuisines, food and to top the chart was Korean food among other food preferences that grew during the pandemic. The rise of K drama fans in India also introduced them to try Korean food and this made restaurant owners to try their hand at this cuisine. The rising popularity of K-Food in India also brought unique growth opportunity for Korean food manufacturers, ingredients and condiments manufacturers and the consumer foodservice sector in India post-2020. 


According to a report by Euro monitor, the increase in the viewership of K-dramas and K-Pop influenced the uptake and consumption of K noodles in India. The viewership of K dramas and K pops one Netflix, an online streaming platform, reported a YoY 370% jump in 2020 and the import of Korean Noodles in India also witnessed a volume growth of 162% in 2020.


The report also mentioned that K-Dramas gained popularity in India because of factors like storyline, fashion, and aesthetics. Interestingly, 88% of the respondents were willing to try Korean food, while only 40% of them had never tasted Korean food.


“We have seen the number of customers grow with fame of K-dramas in India,” shared a spokesperson at K Restaurant Pune that serves Korean food in the city. “Most of the customers that we get at our restaurant are youngsters, college students who enjoy eating Korean noodles and ramen.


It is not surprising that Indians are drawn towards Korean Food. Ingredients such as rice, noodles, vegetables, meat and ingredients such as sesame oil, chilli, pepper, soy, and spices are common across Korean as well as Indian cuisine. The Korean food plate consists of a protein source like meat or tofu, broth, rice and side dishes like kimchi, seaweed, anchovies etc. Korean food. has gained popularity because of the health benefits associated with it as well as the influence through K-dramas. With easy access to information and recipes online, Indian consumers are not shying away from experimenting with food and are experimenting with the cuisine adding an Indian twist to it.


According to Euro monitor that conducted an interview with a popular South Korean noodle brand, Nong Shim gathered that there has been a sale of 1 mn USD in 2020 – which is a 130% growth from 2019.  It is also considering India as an important market and focusing on products that cater to Indian consumers. Nong Shim and another popular Korean Noodle brand, Samyang are currently targeting Tier 1 Indian markets because of high income and customer awareness. 

Commenting on the same Megha Poddar of White Light Foods thatis into asian food ingredients and ready to eat products shared, “we are aware of the amount of money and resources being pumped in to make Korean pop bands and dramas famous in India. We have started introducing one dish at a time from the Korean cuisine to our existing client base and take them through this trend with us. The only glitch is that Korean food is predominantly non vegetarian and for the Indian market the number of vegetarian options will have to be plenty too, something that we are working on while trying to maintain the authenticity of the dish.”

She also pointed that Korean flavours consists of sweet, salt and spice- everything that gels well with the Indian palettes hence transition and acceptability to try it will be fairly easy.”

As per data available, first Korean restaurant was started in Chennai way back in 1990s when Sunny Jun, an amiable gentleman who had come to India to manufacture soft toys, set up Korea House, the first Korean restaurant in the city. Korean as a community could be found in large numbers in the city as in the mid ’90s, Hyundai picked Chennai for its first Indian plant. And, soon the trend spread to other cities including Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru where these communities, students were present. Mumbai was the last to witness the korean trend and it was only in 2014 that the city welcomes the first Korean restaurant Heng Bok in Bandra and today we can see small Korean eateries spreading across different cities in India.

Not only this, looking at the global fame of Korean brand BTS, McDonald’s launched exclusive BTS X McDonald’s merchandise earlier this May. This head-to-toe collection is inspired by some of the craveable, hand-picked menu items from the BTS Meal, with dynamite threads like hoodies, purple bathrobes, socks and sandals. Whether it’s the McDonald’s fry box logo with seven fries for each BTS member, or the marriage of BTS purple with McDonald’s red and gold, these designs are the perfect representation of an iconic partnership between two fan-favorite brands.

Hence, we can say that the Korean culture has gained a huge acceptance in India in 2020 and continues to do so in 2021 owing to its increasing fan base. 

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