The K-ramen Wave in Beauty Supplies

The K-ramen Wave in Beauty Supplies

K-ramens are all over the place. Korea’s ramen exports hit a record high, and spicy K-ramen challenges are popping up all over social media. Riding the wave, some beauty supply stores are reportedly selling Korean ramen products. We interviewed Mr. Saeyoung Kang, who developed a ramen cooking machine and opened a self-serve ramen shop in Georgia, as well as a beauty supply store that sells ramen, to find out what is going on with the ramen craze.



C&S Beauty in Lawrenceville, Georgia. A poster promoting K-Food with an image of a bowl of ramen is visible from the store’s exterior window. As you enter the store, you’ll see a variety of ramen products lined up neatly on the shelves. Owner Jae-wook Woo of C&S Beauty says, “We were the first beauty supply to sell ramen products in Georgia,” and shared the behind story.

“I went to a beauty supply store in another state and they were selling Korean ramen products. I immediately thought that we should try the same, so we started looking for a grocery supplier, but in Atlanta, we couldn’t find one. We could possibly get them at wholesale prices, but the terms of supply were tricky at most. You have to order a large quantity and have a large retail space. So I just bought some from a local Korean grocery store and sold them with no margin, and they sold pretty well, you know? Luckily, I was able to connect with a ramen wholesaler through a friend, and we are now getting them on a regular basis.”


A ramen stand near the entrance. A self-made banner is hung over the products.


Quickly after we got the word out, other local beauty supplies caught on the trend. When asked about the response from customers, he laughed and said it’s been selling so well that he’s gotten some repeat customers who buy eight-piece bundles, so he paid for the banners himself. When asked which ramen was the most popular, the answer was immediate. “The pink (buldak noodles)! There are social media challenges.”

K-Ramen is here!

In February of this year, South Korean ramen exports reportedly hit a record high. $93 million (120 billion KRW) worth of ramen products, or 23,000 tons in weight, were sold to more than 100 countries. The number one exporting country is, by far, the United States.

K-pop and K-dramas have naturally increased interest in Korean food, and various ramen challenges on social media, including jjajangramyeon featured in the acclaimed movie “Parasite” (aka “jjapaguri”, which was introduced as cup noodles in the U.S. after the film’s success), and BTS members’ ramen eating videos have also contributed to the K-ramen craze.

On YouTube, a video of an American food fighter devouring 15 ramen noodles in under 10 minutes has garnered over 140 million views, and the global Fire Noodle Challenge, which began when YouTube star Joshua, known as “Korean Englishman,” posted a video of his buldak ramen challenge, is showing no signs of slowing down.


YouTuber Joshua’s buldak noodle challenge featured his friends in the UK. It was posted in 2014 and is viewed over 11 million times.

The Fire Noddle challenge that’s taking the internet by storm


“Ramen is just the beginning”, Saeyoung Kang’s new vision

Saeyoung Kang of SKY Display is no stranger to the beauty industry. His business is an established supplier of retail displays and has been participating in beauty shows for years. Last March, at a beauty show in Atlanta, the company introduced something different. It’s an instant ramen cooker that took two years to develop.

An instant ramen cooker was showcased at the beauty show in Atlanta. It features an AI that automatically adjusts the amount of water and cooking time. With the instant hot water feature, you can enjoy hot ramen in less than 5 minutes.


Last October, he also opened a self-serve ramen shop called The Fork USA Self Ramen in Suwanee, Georgia. (His primary business interest lies in display, of course.) Customers choose their ramen products, add toppings to their liking, and cook it in an automated machine, so I was able to conduct an interview with Mr. Kang in a relaxed manner even though there were quite a few customers in the store.

Inside view of ‘The Fork USA Self Ramen’ shop

Saeyoung Kang, Owner, SKY Display System and The Fork USA




You’ve been a display expert for a long time, so I’m curious why you decided to venture into the ramen business as an add-on business. 

In addition to beauty supplies, I also handle convenience store display equipment, such as retail refrigerators and coffee machines. So ramen is one of the display units for me.

How did you come to develop the ramen cooker yourself?

A friend who runs an internet cafe asked me for advice on what would be a good food item for sale in the cafe, and when I visited Korea, I saw ramen machines along the Han River and in many convenience stores. I thought that would be great, but when we tried to import the machine from Korea, there were a lot of things that didn’t work out. Then I thought, I’d rather make it myself. If it becomes ubiquitous, it becomes a business, so I took the time to build it. That was two years ago.

The development process must have been rough.

It was a lot of trial and error. It’s a lot of money, a lot of technical and safety issues, and the machine failed dozens of times. We ate a lot of ramen during the development process, and we’re still eating a lot of ramen. (Laughs) Now we’ve finished up the ramen machine, trademarked it, and we’re going to start shipping it next month.

You already supply ramen products to various sectors. How much do beauty supplies occupy in your business?

Quite a lot. Louisiana, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee… I’m not sure about the West, but the Southeast, it is all over the place. Nowadays, beauty supplies are getting bigger and there are not enough items, so many business owners are trying to expand their business. And ramen has a good margin.

What kind of ramen are most popular?

We have Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Singaporean ramen, but Korean ramen is the most popular, making up 90% of our ramen sales. For beauty supplies, buldak noodles are the main seller. There are 12 to 13 types of buldak noodles, and they are popular because they utilize the spicy flavors characteristic to each country.



A ramen stand using SKY Display’s metal slate wall display units. The cartoon character used in the display is a Korean webtoon character that Kang bought the rights to and registered in the U.S. under the brand name “The Forks”.

Ramen vending machines for retail store entrances are also in the final stages of development.



How will you supply ramen machines in the future?

We are currently looking for a distributor. Right now, we only supply ramen noodles, but we’re looking to expand. Frozen and ready-to-eat meals have advanced dramatically, so it’s a great way to add more flavor and nutritional value for a quick and easy meal. Ramen is the beginning, and the end game is an instant restaurant that fits the modern lifestyle.


You can add vegetables, eggs, and other fresh ingredients to instant food to increase their nutritional value.


So how would it play out for a beauty supply?

Beauty supply retailers are constantly facing challenges, and the only way to survive is trying anything and everything. Bookstores sell coffee. For beauty supplies, a shop-in-shop format is difficult because of the strong smell of ramen, but if you have a separate space next to your store, you can set up a self-service ramen shop. A few days ago, an out-of-state beauty supply contacted me about putting ramen machines in a spot next to their store. There are beauty supply store owners who have been in business for a long time and are looking for a second job, and I think this is a great opportunity for them. My goal is to make instant restaurants as ubiquitous as Chinese restaurants and McDonald’s.

Contact: The Forks 678-630-4254 |


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