Korean fried chicken

Korean fried chicken, usually called chikin (치킨, from the English "chicken") in Korea, refers to a variety of fried chicken dishes created in South Korea, including the basic huraideu-chicken (후라이드 치킨, from the English "fried chicken") and spicy yangnyeom chicken (양념 치킨, "seasoned chicken").[1] In South Korea, fried chicken is consumed as a meal, an appetizer, anju (food that is served and eaten with drinks), or as an after-meal snack.[2]

Korean fried chicken
Ganjang-chicken (coated with soy sauce), huraideu-chicken (regular fried chicken), and yangnyeom chicken (coated with spicy sauce) with a glass of beer.
Korean name
Revised Romanizationchikin

Korean fried chicken was described by Julia Moskin of The New York Times as a "thin, crackly and almost transparent crust".[2] The chicken is usually seasoned with spices, sugar, and salt, prior to and after being fried. Korean fried chicken restaurants commonly use small- or medium-sized chickens; these younger chickens result in more tender meat. After frying, the chicken is usually hand-painted with sauce using a brush in order to evenly coat the chicken with a thin layer. Pickled radishes and beer (or carbonated drink) are often served with Korean fried chicken.


The Korean word chikin (치킨) refers to fried chicken (and occasionally also to roasted chicken), while the name for the domesticated fowl is dak (). The word is shortened from peuraideu chikin (프라이드 치킨), which is a transliteration of the English phrase "fried chicken".[3] According to the National Institute of Korean Language, the word chikin (치킨) refers to "a dish made by coating chopped chicken with flour, and frying or baking it".[4][5] Fried chicken that is not chopped before frying is called tongdak (통닭, "whole chicken"). Both chikin and tongdak are occasionally referred to as dak-twigim (닭튀김, "chicken fritter").[6]

The unshortened form peuraideu chikin, despite being the "correct" transliteration,[7] is not as popular in Korea. The more commonly used form, huraideu-chikin (후라이드 치킨), may have been adopted in Korean owing to residual influence from the Japanese convention that persisted in Korea in the 1970s. (The Japanese forced occupation only ended in 1945.) The phrase huraideu-chikin is often shortened to huraideu (후라이드) and refers to a fried chicken dish without the added seasonings post-frying. This is often used to differentiate it from yangnyeom-chikin (양념 치킨, "seasoned chicken"). The National Institute of Korean Language does not recognize huraideu-chikin as the conventional name, but insists on the transliteration (and transvocalization) peuraideu-chikin, which it also insists should be "refined" to dakgogi-twigim (닭고기 튀김, "chicken meat fritter").[7]


The recipe for frying chicken was already a form of cooking in the 15th century, so it is presumed that it has been cooked since the Goryeo Dynasty.[8][9] Fried chicken was cooked and served with a special seasoning made of vinegar and soy sauce under the name of "Pogye" (포계) in early Joseon dynasty.[10]

The trend of eating chicken began in Korea during the late 1960s, when Myeongdong Yeongyang Center in Seoul began selling whole chicken roasted over an electric oven.[11] It was not until the 1970s when cooking oil was widely available that the modern fried chicken started appearing in Korea. The first modern Korean fried chicken franchise, Lims Chicken, was established in 1977 in the basement of Shinsegae Department Store, Chungmu-ro, Seoul[12][11] by Yu Seok-ho. Yu stated that his idea of selling smaller, individual pieces of fried chicken in Korea came along in 1975 when he went to go study abroad in the United States. He began frying chicken there, and received accolades for creating 'ginseng chicken'. He started his business in Korea with six pieces of fried chicken between ₩280 to ₩330, and sold around 900 pieces as his beginning career.[13] It was "embraced as an excellent food pairing for draft beer"; the word for the pairing, "chimaek", is a portmanteau of "chicken" and "maekju", the Korean word for beer.[14]

The well-known variety with spicy coatings, also known as yangnyeom-chikin, had its history begin in 1982 by Yun Jonggye, who was running a fried chicken restaurant (later Mexican Chicken[15]) at Daegu. He noticed that customers in his restaurant were struggling to chew on the hard, crisp layers of the fried chicken, and led to inconveniences such as scraped palates. Yun decided to pull a twist on the traditional fried chicken to soften the hard shells of the chicken, and appease more Korean customers by marinating it sweet and spicy.[11] Yang states that despite the spicy flavor, the very first yangnyeom-chikin did not include gochujang as one of their marinating ingredients.[13]

Fried chicken was further popularized when Kentucky Fried Chicken opened stores in South Korea in 1984.[16][17]

The Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s contributed to the number of restaurants selling fried chicken as laid off workers opened chicken restaurants.[18] In recent years, owing to market saturation in Korea, many of Korea's major fried chicken chains, such as Mexicana Chicken, Genesis BBQ, Kyochon Chicken and Pelicana Chicken, have expanded to set up new presences in the United States, China, Canada, and Southeast Asia.[19]

By 2013 there were more than 20,000 fried chicken restaurants in South Korea serving fried chicken and by 2017, 36,000.[16][20] Almost a third of the chicken consumed in South Korea is fried; Smithsonian calls it a "ubiquitous staple".[21][18]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, international chain Bonchon was one of few restaurant chains to continue to add stores.[22]


Banban (half seasoned and half plain) chicken

By seasoning

  • Huraideu-chikin (후라이드 치킨, "fried chicken") – often simply referred to as huraideu (후라이드), this is the basic fried chicken.
  • Yangnyeom-chikin (양념 치킨, "seasoned chicken") – fried chicken coated in gochujang-based sweet and spicy sauce.[1]
  • Banban (Korean: 반반; Hanja: 半半, "half-half") – shortened from yangnyeom ban, huraideu ban (양념 반, 후라이드 반, "half yangnyeom, half huraideu") is often used to refer to chicken that is served half seasoned and half plain.[23]
  • Ganjang-chikin (간장 치킨, "soy sauce chicken") – fried chicken coated in ganjang-based sweet and savoury sauce, which is often also garlicky.[24]
  • Padak (파닭, "scallion chicken") – fried chicken topped with or smothered with a large amount of thinly shredded scallions.[1][25]
  • Honey-Chikin (허니 치킨, "honey sauce chicken") - It is based on soy sauce like soy sauce chicken, but it is characterized by sweeter and more sticky with honey.[26]

By style

  • Tongdak (통닭, "whole chicken") – also called yennal-tongdak (옛날통닭, "old-time whole chicken"),[27] this is a 1970s-style whole chicken deep-fried in oil.[1]
  • Sunsal-chikin (순살 치킨, "pure flesh chicken") – boneless chicken.[1]

Korean brands

  • bb.q Chicken (an abbreviation for “best of the best quality”, not barbecue), which has featured in numerous Korean dramas like Guardian: The Lonely and Great God and Crash Landing on You[28][29]
  • BHC[30]
  • Bonchon Chicken (본촌치킨)
  • Buloman Sutbul Barbecue (불로만 숯불 바베큐)[31]
  • Chungman Chicken (충만치킨)[32]
  • Dasarang (다사랑)[33]
  • Goobne Chicken (굽네치킨)[34]
  • Jadam Chicken (자담치킨), the first and only Korean fried chicken brand that uses Animal welfare certified chicken since 2017[35]
  • Kyochon (교촌)
  • Mexicana (멕시카나)
  • Nene Chicken (네네치킨)[36]
  • Norang Tongdak (노랑통닭)[37]
  • Puradak (푸라닭)[38]
  • Gcova Chicken (지코바치킨)
  • Han's Chimaek (한스 치맥)[39]

See also


  1. Kim, Violet (2015-06-22). "Watch your wing, KFC! Korean fried chicken (and beer) is here". CNN. Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  2. Moskin, Julia (February 7, 2007). "Koreans Share Their Secret for Chicken With a Crunch". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  3. (in Korean) 전, 경하 (2017-02-06). "[우리 식생활 바꾼 음식 이야기] 기름·닭·소스 388가지 맛 '치킨 공화국' …20년간 외식 메뉴 1위". Seoul Shinmun. Archived from the original on 2017-02-12. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  4. (in Korean) "치킨 (chicken)". Standard Korean Language Dictionary. National Institute of Korean Language. Archived from the original on 2017-02-12. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  5. "치킨 (chicken)". Basic Korean Dictionary. National Institute of Korean Language. Archived from the original on 2017-02-12. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  6. (in Korean) "닭-튀김". Standard Korean Language Dictionary. National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  7. "프라이드치킨 (fried chicken)". National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  8. 전순의. 《산가요록(山家要錄)》. 1450년대의 농서 요리책.
  9. 《대식가들》. 한국방송. 2016년 10월29일 방송분.
  10. Lagdani, Safae (2020-12-04). "Fried chicken in Joseon Dynasty". Talk Talk KOREA. Archived from the original on 2021-07-18.
  11. "History of Korean-style fried chicken". The Korea Herald. 27 May 2016. Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  12. "First Fried Chicken Franchiser in Korea, Lims Chicken". AgraFood. Archived from the original on 2017-03-25. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  13. "우리나라 치킨의 유래와 역사 - 치킨이 지배하는 나라, 한국". 이과의 읽을거리. KBS2. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  14. Berry, Harrison. "All Hail the Chicken God: Han's Chimaek serves the crispiest fried chicken in Boise". Idaho Press. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  15. Korean name is 맥시칸치킨 (Maek-si-kan-chi-kin); not to be confused with 멕시칸치킨 (Mek-si-can-chi-kin).
  16. Kim, Violet (22 June 2015). "CULINARY JOURNEYS : Watch your wing, KFC! Korean fried chicken (and beer) is here". Archived from the original on 22 January 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  17. Kim (김), Bo-ra (보라) (21 August 2019). "'원조 KFC' 양념치킨 제2 전성기" ["The Original KFC" Yangnyeom chicken's second heyday]. The Korea Economic Daily, Hankyung (한국경제). Archived from the original on 9 July 2020. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  18. Peterson, Cecilia; Rie, Crystal (18 October 2017). "How Korean Fried Chicken, AKA "Candy Chicken" Became a Transnational Comfort Food". Smithsonian Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 July 2020. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  19. "Chicken 'hallyu' in offing". The Korea Times. 29 December 2013.
  20. DURAI, ABIRAMI (22 July 2019). "How Korean fried chicken become so popular". Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  21. Yeon (연), Seungwoo (승우) (11 September 2018). "후라이드치킨이 없던 시절 우린 닭을 어떻게 먹었을까?" [How did we eat chicken at that time when no fried chicken?]. FarmInsight (in Korean). Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  22. Maynard, Micheline. "As Other Restaurants Close, Bonchon, Known For Korean Fried Chicken, Is Growing". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  23. Berning, Dale (2017-01-07). "Reiko Hashimoto: 'I never buy anything ready-made – not even sandwiches'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2017-02-10. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  24. "Seven Singapore places to get your fried chicken fix". Malay Mail. 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  25. Garcia, Joseph L. (2016-12-08). "The many flavors of Korean fried chicken". BusinessWorld. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  26. "교촌허니오리지날(상세) | 교촌치킨". www.kyochon.com. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  27. (in Korean) 김, 오희 (2016-08-25). "[스마트 리빙] 추억의 그 맛, '옛날 통닭' 外". MBC News Today. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  28. "Home". bbdotqchicken.com.
  29. "South Korean chain offers a different take on fried chicken". 11 July 2019.
  30. "BHC". BHC (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2019-04-23. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  31. "불로만 숯불바베큐". www.bulloman.com. Archived from the original on 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  32. "충만치킨". www.choongman.kr. Archived from the original on 2019-12-01. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  33. "다사랑 홈페이지에 오신것을 환영합니다". www.idasarang.com. Archived from the original on 2019-11-13. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  34. "굽네치킨". www.goobne.co.kr. Archived from the original on 2019-04-23. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  35. "자담치킨". ejadam.co.kr (in Korean). Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  36. "네네치킨". nenechicken.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  37. "노랑통닭". www.norangtongdak.co.kr (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2019-11-18. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  38. "푸라닭치킨". puradak.com. Archived from the original on 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  39. "Home". hanschimaek.com.
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