As the world becomes more globalized, culture is not only being exchanged, integrated, and fused but also returned in a new form.
Korean fried chicken is an example of how an American dish became transformed in Korea and returned to the United States. Fried chicken was introduced to Korea through American troops stationed in the country during the Korean War. Although Koreans were too impoverished in the 1950s to make chicken part of their diet, it became more accessible as the country underwent an economic boom starting in the 1960s. Rotisserie chicken in a yellow bag became emblematic of the country’s new class of salarymen who would bring home this luxury item on payday. Korean fried chicken then emerged around the 1970s, as cheap cooking oil became readily available and the price of chicken became more affordable.
Korean people’s obsession with fried chicken (especially when complemented with beer) today can be seen on K-dramas and variety shows. In turn, Korean immigrants brought the dish back to the United States in its recognizable but distinct form. In Washington D.C., the well-known fried chicken restaurant KoChix was founded by a Korean immigrant family. They reportedly saw the rising popularity of K-pop and K-dramas in the United States and made a decision to transform their fish and chips shop into a Korean fried chicken restaurant.
This is not an uncommon globalization story – and similar trends can be seen in music, art, TV, and others. It is a subtle but tangible benefit of a more closely integrated global community that should not be overlooked.
This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.
Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Sean Blanco, Marina Dickson, and Jina Park. Image taken from the video by YouTube channel Korean Englishman