The Food Delivery Industry in Korea
Food delivery services have been a growing market globally but Korea had this culture for a long time. Before it became popular internationally, visitors to Korea were often intrigued to observe all kinds of food delivered to the door.
Another Korean culture (or prejudice) is that Koreans are always in a hurry and they want everything to be fast. The ‘balle balle (fast fast) culture has contributed to the Korean economy to grow fast and build up to what Korea is now. Moreover, the balle balle culture is believed to be one of the factors which created the need for fast delivery service.
There is a record in 1768 diary of Chosun scholar Hwang, Yun-Suk, that he ordered ‘Naengmyeon' (a cold noodle dish)’ after he took the Korean civil service examinations.
Prior to independence from Japan in 1945, there are records of delivery of Guk-Bap (soup with rice), Nangmyeon and other foods. After independence as Chinese restaurants started to gain popularity, Chinese food became the top delivery food. Starting from the 1980s, franchise companies providing fried chicken and pizza started delivery services and gradually the number of delivery products increased. Now it is possible to order ice cream, gourmet menus and even sushi. The first country where McDonald's delivered fast food was Korea.
The method of delivery has changed along with the types of food. During the early days, women would balance a large tray on their heads and deliver food on foot. However, this limited the range for delivery. As motorcycles became affordable people started to use motorcycles for most deliveries. Chinese food was the most popular delivered food and, a motorcycle with a metal box ('chul ga bang') became the symbol of food delivery. As the delivery evolved to franchise foods and the development of technology, chul ga bangs are now hard to see. Now motorcycles have insulated storage boxes to keep food from getting cold and to protect it so it does not spill in transit.
As the methods of delivery changed, the structure of the delivery service has changed too. Initially, restaurant owners delivered their food or hire staff to deliver their meals. However, this involved a risk for the restaurant owners. Motorcycle riders had to be paid whether they were busy or not and furthermore, they were in danger of being injured during delivery. In response, independent delivery companies were introduced in the market starting around 2010 revolutionizing the delivery industry.
The smartphone app has also transformed the industry. In the past, the customer had to call the restaurant and order by phone. Now, the customer can view the menu, order and pay in just a few clicks. With an app, like uber, food can be delivered efficiently based on the location of the restaurant and the consumers. Moreover, as these app platform services developed the app does not only provide delivery but they also provided promotions and consulting for the restaurant.
With the massive growth of delivery service platforms, not only food but virtually anything can be purchased and delivered quickly and efficiently using smartphone technology.
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