Photo: Dangdang Chicken by Homeplus. Credit: Homeplus.
Koreans love fried chicken; there are more fried chicken joints in South Korea than there are McDonalds’ in the world. Fried chicken stalls have long been a haven for Korea’s small business owners, who could open a franchise with only a small amount of capital and little culinary skill.
Homeplus 홈플러스, a discount store similar to Wal-Mart, caused a stir by entering the chicken market with severely discounted fried chicken. Homeplus’ offering, called Dangdang Chicken 당당치킨 (“proud chicken”) costs KRW 6,990 (USD 5.23) for a whole chicken in original recipe, and KRW 7,990 (USD 5.98) for the sauce-coated kind - a bargain basement price compared to most franchise fried chicken outlets, which charge more than KRW 20k per chicken plus delivery fees. With strong consumer reception, other retailers like Emart 이마트 and Lotte Mart 롯데마트 have also began to sell discounted fried chicken.
The success of Homeplus’ discount fried chicken is somewhat surprising. Lotte Mart, in fact, was the pioneer of cut-rate chicken, with their Tongkeun Chicken 통큰치킨 (“generous chicken”) debuting in December 2010. Lotte, however, had to discontinue the chicken sales within a week, as it came under fire for undercutting mom-and-pop businesses.
But 12 years later, pinched by inflation that has steadily pushed up the cost of franchise fried chicken, consumers are feeling less generous. Homeplus customers lined up at Dangdang Chicken stalls, which sold over 300k orders in a week.