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Korean Fried Chicken(KFC), the most favoured delivery food in South Korea

KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) is a popular food item in Mukbang videos viewed during late night hours in South Korea.

If you google Mukbang, you will find most of images showing delivery food or late night meal. 

This is because that most of the Mukbang videos aired on the South are likely to be watched during late night hours, which tends to show the streamer taking a late-night snack or delivery food that the viewers would like to eat at that time. And, there is no doubt that KFC is the most favoured and featured item in the Mukbang videos.

But, what is KFC? It is a shortening of “Korean Fried Chicken”.

KTC

In fact, this term is not used in Korea; instead, Koreans use the term “chikin” (adapted pronunciation of chicken) to refer to a variety of deep-fried chicken dishes. It is worth noting that behind the background of the popularity of chicken in Korean society lie unique social and cultural circumstances. In more detail, as the country went through several financial crises, those who had voluntarily retired became self-employed, and started to run fried chicken shops, as this was something that did not require sophisticated culinary skills.

delivery service

24 hour and night-time delivery services increased and competition intensified with the mass entry of new markets suppliers.

By 2014, the fast-growing Korean late-night meal market was estimated at 10-15 trillion Korean won, 12-19% of the total food service market, with chicken revealed as one of the favourite night-time delivery dishes. Interestingly, approximately 50% of total order volumes came from the period between 8pm and 4am.

In 2013, there were 22,529 franchise-based fried chicken restaurants in the country, including over 30,000 independently-owned fried chicken stores or local bars selling fried chicken.

For reference, in the same year, the number of McDonald’s stores was 35,429 globally. Korean “chicken”, which is renowned for its sweet and spicy flavour, seasoned with hot pepper paste and sugar, has seen soaring popularity in overseas sales thanks to the demand from foreign audiences curious about the food that appears so frequently in K-Dramas. According to the article “South Korea’s Fried Chicken Craze Sparks Battle for Market Share” in (2016), exports to East Asia have increased sharply from the early 2000s.

However, it should be taken into account that, regardless of its popularity, in South Korea, those foods have been regarded as “bad” foods, the cause of obesity and of eating disorders. In particular the media arguing educated eating are necessary to promote good health, insisting watching Mukbang eating KFC is bad for the health, even saying “you can get fat just by looking at it”

References:

● Kim, B. (2014a). ‘2014 대한민국 밤의 식탁문화’, DongaIlbo, 23 Sep [online]. Available at: http://news.donga.com/List/Series_70030000000712/3/7003 0000000712 /2014 0920/66542963/1

● Son, D. (2017) ‘시장 규모 3조원 한국 대표 야식 ‘치킨’… 닭고기 소비량 미국의 1/3, 성장 잠재력 커’, Chosun Ilbo, 20 Feb [online]. Available at: http://premium.chosun.com/site/data/ html_dir/2017/02/01/2017020101184.html

● Sang, Y. (2015) ‘Korean fried chicken places outnumber world’s McDonald’s’, Korea herald, 5 Oct [online]. Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20151005001042

● Fortune (2016). ‘South Korea’s Fried Chicken Craze Sparks Battle for Market Share’, Fortune, 17 Oct [online]. Available at: https://fortune.com/2016/10/17/korea-fried-chicken-%20production/

● Kim, J. H., Yu, J., Sya, K., & Son, S. H. (2021). K-Culture Glossary: 100 Terms to Get You Started with Korean Popular Culture. Jikim Publishing Limited.

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