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Korea is probably one of the most mysterious peninsulas in the world. We all know that North Korea is closed off and very isolationist, but new data from South Korean e-commerce company TMON shows us that it might actually be South Koreans who are the most mysterious. Why is that? Mainly because of their spending habits when it comes to two products: instant ramen and diapers.

Two fairly uncommon products to some Americans, ramen and diapers are amongst the most popular products in South Korea. But what’s more interesting, isn’t the products themselves, but rather the population that buys them.

According to TMON, in South Korea instant ramen is most commonly purchased by men over sixty. In the West, ramen is the the go-to meal for any 20 year old who just graduated college and is trying to get by with almost no money. But, in South Korea it seems the part of the population with the most experience in life are the ones who choose this meal solution. Is this a result of all their experience? Or could it be some wisdom that comes with old age we don’t know about? Maybe, in South Korea once you’ve experienced everything, it’s culturally common to revert back to basics. Another possibility is that instant ramen there just tastes WAY better. It’s important to remember that while TMON is a major force in the Korean e-commerce industry, the company has not shared exact numbers, rather only that ramen is the most popular product for this demographic. It’s a little vague as to what the actual trends are.

Diapers are the other product that show an anomaly in South Korean spending habits. South Koreans buy a lot of diapers, not just a few diapers, a shit ton of diapers. Across almost every demographic in South Korea, the most common supermarket item purchased is diapers. Do babies in South Korea poop more? Or are grandparents and extended family members in South Korea more involved in raising babies than in the West? If this is the case, then it would make sense that diapers are a common product across demographics. It’s also possible people use diapers for other things, like paper towel replacement or bath sponges.

No word as of yet from TMON as to what insights can be drawn from this data, but rest assured that we will keep you updated with all the latest news when it comes to Korean instant ramen and diapers.

While it’s nice to make light of this data, if it is true, it showcases an untapped market for instant ramen merchants all around the world. Or maybe the data tells those merchants not doing so well they need to study the recipes used by South Korean manufacturers in order to boost sales.

As for the diapers, the popularity of this product shows a big cultural difference. The fact that the entire extended family plays an active role in raising babies in South Korea, has wide effects on the economy and makes diapers an even hotter commodity than it is in the West. It also probably doesn’t help that the U.S. has reached the lowest fertility rate in its history. Should diaper manufacturers in the West start marketing their products to extended families? Or should they stick to the tried, true, and sexist method of targeting mothers?


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