ajunews Monday,26 February 2024

Nongshim's Shin Ramyun pop-up store captivates young spicy instant noodle lovers

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : January 30, 2023, 16:42 Updated : February 3, 2023, 12:30

[Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

SEOUL -- Dressed in casual jackets and coats, young spicy food lovers flocked to an offline pop-up store filled with various games and products related to Shin Ramyun, a top South Korean brand of instant noodles well known for its spicy flavor. Despite the cold and rainy weather, some 50 people holding an umbrella visited the store where various items such as pop sockets and keyboard protectors with Shin Ramyun's brandmark engraved greeted them. Some of them took selfies with a staff member dancing in a costume featuring a raccoon character, a mascot of Shin Ramyun producer Nongshim.
 

[Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

About 20 people were eating super spicy Shin Ramyun (or ramyeon) after choosing ingredients such as meat, mushroom, and green onion using a tablet. Visitors could choose the spicy level, as well as the type of noodles and ingredients using a QR code through a tablet in front of a tasting zone. After making a selection, they received a cooking kit from a staff member and started cooking their noodles with selected ingredients.

A standard package of Shin Ramyun consists of noodles, a sachet of flavoring powder, a sachet of vegetable flakes. Visitors could try the new Shin Ramyun brand three times spicier than the original one at the store. About 10 employees wearing red shirts guided customers to create their own Shin Ramyun while some helped young visitors take photos and participate in games.
 

[Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

The offline store was an event shop showcased by Nongshim, a major food company in South Korea. It was launched to capitalize on the popularity of a virtual store that attracted some 430,000 users on a popular metaverse platform called Zepeto. Helped by the popularity of the virtual store where visitors could try instant noodles through avatars, the one-month offline experimental store was visited by about 700 people as of January 12, only two days after its launch.
 

[Photograph by Kim Joo-heon]

"The pop-up store's red design captivated me to come over," Yoo Seon-young, a 29-year-old businesswoman, told Aju Business Daily. The lady who introduced herself as a blogger has worked for about 8 hours before visiting the store, but she didn't feel tired at all as the red color, which represents the Shin Ramyun brand, sparked her curiosity. "I think Shin Ramyun is definitely the one I want to recommend to foreigners. It is a bit spicy, but I still want to recommend the most popular brand," said Yoo, adding that she enjoyed different activities at the pop-up store such as taking photos using a Polaroid instant camera with her friend. 
 

Blogger Yoo Seon-young (left) poses with her friend [Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

"This was a lot spicier than we expected," Choi Hee-jae, a 24-year-old businesswoman who visited the store with her boyfriend, said after choosing the spiciest noodles. "We were sweating so much while eating the new version!" Choi and her boyfriend came from Nonhyeon-dong in Seoul's southern district of Gangnam which takes about 50 minutes by subway from the shop. The 24-year-old who works at a metaverse company visited the store after the virtual noodle store gained explosive popularity.
 
As soon as visitors enter the pop-up store, they can see the uniform and autograph of footballer Son Heung-min, a model for Shin Ramyun who was chosen as the most popular sports star in South Korea in 2017. A large map showing foreign countries where Shin Ramyun is currently being sold was displayed. The hallway leading to the main exhibition hall was filled with a Shin Ramyun brand story and Nongshim's donation activities.
 
The main exhibition hall consists of a variety of spaces, including a "tasting zone" where anyone can cook their own ramyeon, a "photo zone" to take photos with friends, a "game zone" where visitors can receive prizes through fun activities, and a "gift shop" where people purchase blankets and pens based on the design of Shin Ramyun. The tasting event is held six times a day. A maximum of 20 people can enter the place per session.
 

[Photograph by Kim Joo-heon]

Sales of Shin Ramyun surpassed 15.3 trillion won ($12.4 billion) in cumulative sales as of 2021. "Using the Shin Ramyun noodles sold so far, we can wind the earth about 45,000 times because the length of noodles in a bag is about 50 meters long," said Nongshim's spokesperson Jeon Hyung-ku. According to Jeon, the popularity of South Korean noodles is rapidly growing in the North American market. "Shin Ramyun sales in North America are expected to reach $83 million in 2022, up 36 percent from 2021." The best-selling instant noodle brand is available at every store of the U.S. hypermarket chain and also at U.S. government bodies. It is exported to more than 100 countries.
 

[Photograph by Kim Joo-heon]

Exports of South Korean instant noodles reached $765.4 million in 2022, up 13.5 percent from a year ago. Data released by the World Instant Noodles Association showed that a South Korean person consumes an average of 73 packs of instant noodles per year. When the global community was grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the sales of instant noodles which can play the role of emergency food ration hit $600 million, up 21.6 percent on-year.

Instant noodles that appeared in various Korean films including the Oscar-winning film "Parasite" have created a global online phenomenon, with consumers uploading themselves eating hot noodles on YouTube.
 

[Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

The pop-up store event took place in Seoungsu, a trendy district in eastern Seoul with fancy restaurants and coffee shops. The district which was full of leather and metal workshops has become a hot spot visited by many young people as the number of such workshops rapidly decreased in the 2000s when online shopping malls were introduced.

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