It has been decades since South Korean instant noodles were exported to overseas countries but were mainly consumed by homesick South Korean immigrants and some locals who became fond of the spiciness of the Ramyeons. The noodles came onto the global main stage when "Ramdon," a mix-up recipe of two different Ramyeons, was introduced through "Parasite," a 2019 film directed by Bong Joon-ho. The noodles became even more famous when Parasite won awards at the Academy Awards in 2020.
According to data released by the state-operated Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp. (aT), South Korea recorded $208 million during the first three months of 2023, up 14.3 percent from the same period a year ago. It was the highest-ever Ramyeon exports, and aT analyzed that the worldwide distribution of K-cultural content and aggressive marketing by instant noodle companies helped the sharp increase in exports. Exports of Ramyeon in 2022 stood at $765.4 million, up 13.5 percent from a year ago.
While films, dramas, and K-pop music videos played the role of the global ambassador for the unique instant spicy noodle menus, food makers in South Korea differentiated their marketing method by targeting different markets across the globe.
Shinsegae Food, the food merchandise and service wing of South Korea's retail giant Shinsegae, released Halal-certified "Daebak" noodles to Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia and Malaysia. Major food ingredient maker Ottogi selected Jin from K-pop boy band BTS as the main endorsement model for its best-selling Ramyeon "Jin Ramen." Nongshim, South Korea's largest Ramyeon manufacturer, released the combined version of Ramdon so that customers do not have to mix two different instant noodles to create the famous menu from the Parasite film.
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