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Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Jipbap’ YouTubers are the new momentum driving the globalization of Korean food

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Korean-American YouTubers in the United States are spearheading the global popularization of Korean cuisine through the introduction of home-cooked Korean meals.

YouTubers showcasing ‘jipbap’, the Korean term for home-cooked meals, have attracted millions of subscribers by presenting everyday Korean side dishes and simple meals.

Among the most popular Korean-American YouTubers focused on jipbap are those based in North American cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Hawaii.

There are more than 20 major Korean-American YouTubers who are leading the globalization of home-cooked Korean food in the U.S. YouTubers with high subscriber numbers and views (from left) Kimchimari, Maangchi, The Korean Vegan, and Seonkyoung Longest [Screen captured from YouTube]

Over 20 prominent YouTubers, such as ‘Maangchi’, ‘The Korean Vegan’, ‘Seonkyoung Longest’, ‘Kimchimari’, ‘Squishy Monster’, ‘Chef Chris Cho’, and ‘SweetandtastyTV’, lead this culinary trend. The enthusiasm for home cooking spans people of various ethnicities, with some YouTubers boasting over 6.3 million subscribers and videos reaching more than 300 million views.

Perfect English isn’t a requirement. Maangchi, a first-generation Korean immigrant in New York City known for her Korean-style home cooking, has amassed 6.3 million YouTube subscribers. Viewers are enthusiastic about the Korean friendliness.

Maangchi features everyday Korean favorites; her recipes, including Baechu-doenjangguk (soybean paste soup with cabbage) and mandu (dumpling) soup, are notably simple and straightforward. The soybean paste soup video posted roughly two weeks ago has received hundreds of comments, including “It may be the most simple Korean food, but it means ‘home’ to me,” and “Whenever I feel lonely and miss my mom, I watch Korean home cooking videos.”

“In 2007, I started posting Korean cooking videos on YouTube just for fun,” says Maangchi, who also runs the blog website Maangchi.com. “The channel is for Korean food lovers who want to learn and share home cooking recipes.”

Maangchi has also authored books, including ‘Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking’ and ‘Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking’, featuring accessible recipes for home-cooked meals and sauces.
The backgrounds of these jipbap YouTubers are diverse; for instance, a Korean-American lawyer also doubles as a home-cooking YouTuber.

Based in Chicago, Korean-American lawyer Joanne Lee Molinaro runs ‘The Korean Vegan’ channel, renowned for its healthy recipes, stylish presentation, and soothing narration. The channel has been around since 2016, but its videos have garnered a total of 375.2 million views.

In 2021, Molinaro released ‘The Korean Vegan Cookbook’, a collection of recipes inherited from her mother.

“I think the content is more heartwarming because it introduces everyday food rather than elaborately refined Korean food,” said Eunjoo Chang, 42, of Fullerton, who enjoys Korean food YouTube channels. “When we think of globalization of Korean food, we usually think of ‘Hanjeongsik’ (Korean full-course meal), but I think this is the kind of popularity that people want to see.”

Jinjoo, better known as YouTuber Kimchimari, comes from a background in software engineering with a Ph.D. in computer science. Her passion for cooking, particularly gluten-free meals for her daughter, friends, and family, inspired her YouTube journey.

Her YouTube channel features quick-to-prepare Korean dishes, including dumplings and tteokbokki.

Seonkyoung Longest, a Korean-American immigrant who moved to the United States in 2009 upon getting married, found solace from her loneliness through cooking. This passion turned her into a culinary sensation on YouTube, focusing on Korean cuisine. She lives in Maui, Hawaii, and using fresh ingredients from her garden, she shares easy and simple Korean recipes that anyone can make at home, from street toasted-sandwich to eight different ramen recipes.

As someone who rose to prominence with her home-cooked meals, Seonkyoung Longest went on to compete on Season 4 of Fox’s ‘MasterChef’ hosted by Gordon Ramsay and even opened her own restaurant at the M Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 2013.

The Seattle-based Korean-American mother-daughter duo behind SweetandtastyTV, Miss Mina Oh and Mommy Oh, demonstrate how to prepare dumplings, kimbap, stir-fried sundae (Korean sausage), rice balls, tofu pancakes, steamed eggs, and more, simplifying and adapting Korean recipes.

A Korean restaurant owner is also introducing home cooking on YouTube. Chef Chris Cho, who owns a Korean restaurant in Philadelphia, has garnered more than 210,000 subscribers with his quick and easy Korean recipes. During the pandemic, he has posted TikTok videos with easy and simple Korean recipes and has gained over 1 million followers.

There are an estimated 160 Korean food YouTube channels that introduce home-cooked meals in English on YouTube. Especially with the recent rave sellout of frozen kimbap in Trader Joe’s, Korean food is garnering much attention online, as one YouTube portal site FeedSpot has released a list of the 30 best Korean food YouTube channels based on subscribers, views, number of videos, and new content.

BY EUNYOUNG LEE, HOONSIK WOO [lee.eunyoung6@koreadaily.com]