Call the Colonel

Published on Author Brian Lawler


China has been caught up in a most interesting new fad.  The new fad is called chimek, “chi” which is short for chicken and “mek” which is short for mekju, the Korean word for beer.  That’s right, China is craving fried chicken and beer.

The reason behind this excitement for greasy food and alcohol is the increasing popularity of a Korean television romantic comedy entitled “My Love From the Star”. In this show, the main character craves chimek and likes to celebrate the first snowfall by eating chimek.

Korean television shows have often times been popular in China and seeing as it may be a momentary hype for fried chicken, fast food chains such as KFC are waiting to see if the craze will mean long term demand that can overcome a decrease in chicken sales and a recent spike in avian flu.

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8 Responses to Call the Colonel

  1. This definitely seems like a good opportunity for KFC in China. I have also seen some bizarre KFC-imitator restaurants that have opened up in hope of capitalizing on this trend…including a questionable “Obama Fried Chicken” restaurant. Perhaps some of the other American fried chicken chains should try to use this rise in popularity to expand internationally, as well, such as Church’s fried chicken.

  2. KFC was successful in Japan by bringing in Japanese employees and accommodating KFC restaurant structures to Japanese building constraints. Finally KFC made sure to address cultural differences by changing their menu in Japan to reflect consumer tastes. Maybe the same success can be found in China, but KFC will have to find a strategy that works for China which so far has been a challenge for many foreign brands.

  3. Unfortunately with China’s emulation of the west in their culture and markets, they have started to dive into food culture of America. Although good for KFC and the Chinese economy, it seems that the average Chinese person’s health is taking another hit for money, not from the air but from the dinner plate (or in this case bucket).

    • Hopefully this will not increase the load of negative health externalities which are already burdensome in China

  4. As a South Korean, I first wanted to make sure that “chimek” is South Korean concept. Beer with fried chicken combination has been our friend for a long time.
    As South Korean dramas have been exported to China and have become popular, many Chinese began to fall in love with Korean cultures. This created “The Korean Wave,” creating a big market in China for Korean culture, drama, songs, etc. This market has become so big that it plays an important role in Korean economy.
    Anyways, I guess because of the Korean dramas, the demand for alcohol with fried chicken is likely to increase. However, how will China meet its growing demand when there is a flu killing chickens?

    • Interesting that the cultural origins of “Chimek” lie in South Korea. Seeing this as an export of Korea rather than the US spins it in a whole new way. Will this reverse the decline in demand for chicken spurred by the avian flu? Only time will tell.

  5. There’s a book on KFC in China. They were a key demonstrator of the power of franchising, a business model not known in China. (In Japan McDonald’s was the exemplar.)

    • I guess the book was pretty popular in China? As China’s economy grows rapidly, I think franchising will play an important role in the economy.