Hallyu, a massive wave of Korean love spreading to the world
Various types of Korean cultural content are being embraced by people around the world under the name of “Hallyu,” or “the Korean Wave.” Having started out in the late ‘90s, the Korean Wave has been growing explosively since the turn of the new century, with the total K-Wave related export revenue generated from the last year alone reaching 9.48 billion USD.
The Korean Wave, which was primarily centered on K-pop in its early days, has now expanded its influence to include K-Drama and K-Film, with viewers of K-Drama popping up all over the world. These overseas viewers find the stories of Korean dramas fun and gripping, but there is another reason for their love of K-Drama; they can also live vicariously in the lifestyles of Korean people as well as Korea’s cityscapes, fashion, and food via K-Drama. Major works of K-Drama include “Winter Sonata” which created the Yon-sama sensation in Asia in 2003, “Dae Jang Geum,” “Coffee Prince,” 'My Love from the Star,” and “Descendants of the Sun.”
Delectable K-Food stories in K-Drama
Food Scenes featured in Korean dramas
As Korean TV dramas become more and more popular around the world, people all over are paying increasing attention to Korean people’s living environment and the morsels of Korean culture shown in them, including specific places, dishes, and fashion styles. In particular, they are especially interested in learning about the Korean dishes, which appear on every episode of any K-dramas without fail. In other words, the worldwide popularity of K-Drama is trickling down into K-Food. With that in mind, what scenes and what Korean dishes are really making the global viewers’ mouths water?
Here are some of the mouthwatering Korean dishes that commonly get featured in K-Drama.
# Love Stories Spread via Food!
When it comes to TV dramas, a story of love between a man and a woman in a give and take relationship is a quintessential element that never gets ignored. However, the love counseling for the protagonists almost always takes place at the neighborhood chicken eatery. Each pouring their hearts out to a neighborhood friend of 20 years about their love affair over fried and/or sweet-and-sour chicken and a beer!
And what about the farewell scene? There is an iconic K-Drama scene of eating food that conveys the sorrow of parting in a sympathetic and relatable manner. The female protagonist, who has cried so much as to ruin her make-up, with black tears running down her face, makes a bowl of bibimbap with all the leftover ingredients from her fridge and a spicy hot pepper paste (gochujang) to alleviate her anger and sorrow towards the guy. In a scene like this, food is an important supporting actor that augments the expression of character's emotion. Surely, you must have had an experience of rummaging through your fridge for food like her after watching this very scene, didn’t you? Even in the midst of such a sad moment, the red-hued bibimbap shown on the screen looked irresistibly delicious! Our appetite is indeed powerful enough to make us lose our minds!
# Rid yourself of the fatigue of your working life by dining at snack carts!
That is not the only thing you can see in K-Drama. In the case of dramas set in a corporate environment, snack carts always appear as a place to drink away the woes of working life. Snack cart is an eatery that serves simple food and is usually located on the street or tucked away in the backstreets of a neighborhood. You may have seen a scene in a drama where a group of office workers clad in suits pile into a snack cart and say hello to the welcoming old lady who operates the cart. Inside the snack cart, the protagonists sat at circular tables to talk to each other about the weariness of working life over a soju, while eating pork belly and webfoot octopus grilled together with vegetables on grill plates installed on their tables. Simply looking at them enjoying the sizzling food together with alcohol is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. As expected, the overseas viewers are very curious to know about this snack cart. Because of the influence of such dramas, there is an increasing number of tourist programs that provide the opportunity to experience Korean street food and snack carts.
late-night snack munching scenes are an essential aspect of Korean TV dramas!
In order for viewers to relate to them better, the characters in a drama need to come across as ordinary people like us from time to time, rather than always just looking so cool and sleek. We can often see in dramas the female protagonist, who lives a wonderful and confident life as a career woman during the day, yet watches TV in her own comfy house without any makeup on while eating spicy delivered food with her face covered in sweat. And the reason must be to simply draw empathy from female viewers. Probably because of that very reason, tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) often gets featured in such scenes. Not only is tteokbokki a very common street food in Korea, but it is also one of Korean women’s most beloved snacks. Tteokbokki has been diversifying in recent years, and nowadays, not only can you adjust its spiciness, but you can also add ingredients such as Viennese sausage, cheese, and ramen noodles to suit your taste.
Eat Korean food on these occasions!
Enjoy the authentic taste of Korea!
In addition to the foods mentioned above, there are also other Korean foods that are enjoyed on special occasions, despite not being often seen in dramas. There are foods consumed on Korean traditional seasonal days as well. And there are also ones that have become associated with days people devised for entertainment. As such, eating a certain kind of food on a certain occasion has become a joyful part of Korean culture that simply encourages the sheer enjoyment of food. Just eating food alone adds a little fun to our everyday life, so even a very ordinary day can feel like very special. If you are hesitating on what to eat for your meals today, how about choosing from among K-Drama's recommended dishes or diverse, seasonal cuisine?
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