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Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min promotes an instant noodle product of South Korean maker Nongshim. The export of South Korean instant noodle products hit a record high last year. Photo courtesy of Nongshim

China, U.S. snapped up Korean ramyeon

The export of South Korean instant noodle products, otherwise dubbed ramyeon, hit a record high last year at $765 million, up 13.5 percent from a year ago, according to the Korea Customs Service on Jan. 23.

The outbound shipment of ramyeon has been on the increase over the past eight years since 2015.

In particular, the amount jumped from $470 million in 2019 to $600 million in 2020 and $670 million in 2021 in time with the virus pandemic.

Observers pointed out that people had consumed Korean instant noodle products as they stayed at home longer due to the novel coronavirus.

Broken down by countries, China was the biggest importer with $189 million, followed by the United States with $76 million and Japan with $61 million.

The Philippines ranked No. 4 with $31 million, chased by Taiwan with $30 million and Malaysia with $29.5 million.

As the demand for made-in-Korea ramyeon goes up, a mounting number of Korean corporations, including business bellwether Nongshim, are building factories outside of the country.

“For example, Nongshim’s products made in the United States are not included in the company’s exports,” Prof. Seo Yong-gu at Sookmyung Women’s University said.

“This means that the consumption of Korean ramyeon in offshore places will be far bigger than the export number counted by the country’s customs services.”

The import of foreign ramyeon stood at $150 million, up 46.4 percent year-on-year.

As the ramyeon market gets bigger, its makers are spending a lot of money on marketing campaigns.

For one, Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min has promoted the products of Nongshim.

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