The global popularity of South Korean entertainment is luring consumers to embrace the country’s culture and cuisine, fuelling sales around the world of items ranging from mandu dumplings to water purifiers hawked by boy band BTS. South Korea’s pop music and the success of films such as the Oscar-winning Parasite and television shows including the Netflix series Squid Game are bringing once-obscure brands into the mainstream as far away as the United States. Here are some of the Korean products finding new customers abroad. 1. CJ CheilJedang’s dumplings The sales of frozen-dumpling maker CJ CheilJedang jumped 19 per cent in Asia and Europe in the third quarter and eight per cent in the US after two members of the popular K-pop band BTS fought publicly over mandu , Korea’s popular style of dumpling. The hidden history of xiaolongbao, Shanghai’s famous soup dumplings CJ’s 2019 acquisition of American brand Schwan’s helped the Korean company increase sales in the US food market by utilising Schwan’s distribution channels and local factories. Unlike Chinese dumplings, long popular with Western eaters, the mandu sold in the US under CJ CheilJedang’s Bibigo brand feature a thin wrap with a mix of chicken and coriander. YouTubers showing how to steam or fry the mandu are also proliferating. Mandu typically have a thinner wrap and more ingredients in their filling than dumplings from neighbouring China. “Food is the easiest way to experience a country’s culture,” says Jo Mi-jin, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities in Seoul. “The success of K-content is giving a positive signal to Korean food makers, while the global demand for the foods has been rising during the pandemic.” 2. Nongshim instant noodles Instant-noodle maker Nongshim’s stock spiked after one of Parasite ’s female characters cooked two of its products – Chapagetti and Neoguri – to show how some Koreans might jazz up cheap ready-made noodles by adding expensive beef. Nongshim’s overseas sales jumped 24 per cent year-on-year in 2020, to US$990 million, after the movie received the Academy Award for best picture in 2020. The company believes Parasite ’s popularity contributed to the craze for its instant noodles. It also resonated at home, with a 60 per cent surge in domestic sales of the two products in the three days following the Oscar win. The Seoul-headquartered firm is building a second factory in the US, to increase capacity to sell up to 850 million packets of noodles in North and South America. Nongshim’s biggest product, Shin Ramyun, is South Korea’s most popular instant noodle. Koreans’ consumption of the noodles per capita is the world’s highest, with an average of 80 packages consumed per year, according to the World Instant Noodles Association. Chapagetti is an instant version of Korea’s famous jajangmyeon – noodles in black bean sauce . Neoguri noodles contain seafood and spice. Parasite created a mix of two called “chapa-guri”, to which the wealthy housewife’s maid added expensive Korean beef. The recipe was new even to Koreans, and inspired noodle-lovers across the country to copy it. 3. Dalgona (sugar candy) Dalgona, a nostalgic honeycomb-like sugar candy also known as ppopgi , is resurging in popularity after Squid Game ’s competitors famously had trouble cutting it into shapes. The candy has gone viral on social media, with people on TikTok and YouTube trying to cut the hard candy into shapes including stars and circles, just like the participants of the deadly Squid Game . Part of the allure of making the candy while locked down during the pandemic is the simplicity of the ingredients – would-be dalgona makers need little more than sugar and soda. 4. Samyang ramen Samyang Ramen – the country’s oldest ramen brand, owned by Seoul’s Samyang Foods – was exposed to tens of millions of viewers worldwide when the host of Squid Game’s deadly follies suggested the show’s main character taste the noodles at a convenience store. Even before its surprise appearance on one of the most popular streaming shows ever , the company had already been exporting to 80 countries overseas. About half of its sales come from abroad and nearly 80 per cent of overseas sales were of its Hot Chicken Flavor ramen, a super-spicy flavour particularly popular in China. Some foreign consumers have even held their own contests to eat the spicy noodles as quickly as possible – they’re so hot that even Koreans have been known to struggle. 5. Coway air and water purifiers It’s not just food companies that are luring new customers overseas. Korean air and water purifier maker Coway has used BTS to advertise its products – which include mattresses – since March. The move has paid off as Korean singers’ popularity skyrockets in markets including the US, with Coway reporting record total sales for the third quarter, driven by 43 per cent growth in Malaysia and 12 per cent in the US. In one advertisement, the seven members of the boy band sit around Coway’s two newly released water purifiers, discussing which one they would choose, including whether they want a device that instantly makes ice and sparkling water. One of the singers concludes: “Why so serious? Whichever you choose, it’s Coway!” In another, each artist dances and spins around a premium purifier model to a hip-hop beat. Then there are the ads for Coway’s mattresses, which feature the heartthrobs of BTS sleeping peacefully on their backs.