An increase in sales of ramen and soju is usually an indicator of economic recession. During the previous economic crisis in the first quarter of 1998, sales of soju rose eight percent. The operating profit of Nongshim, which held 75 percent of the domestic ramen market at the time, increased 186 percent.
However, sales of ramen and soju are falling during the current economic recession. Large discount store chain E-Mart announced on Sunday the sales of soju and ramen from Oct. 2008 until this month dropped 3.5 percent and 1.8 percent from a year ago, respectively. According to statistics from the Korea Alcohol and Liquor Industry Association, a total of 16.22 million boxes of soju, typically containing 30 bottles, each holding 360ml of soju, have been sold this year, down 8.5 percent. "It is difficult to understand.
It seems that a trend toward healthy lifestyles is pushing traditional recession food from the market," Kim Ran-do, a professor of consumer behavior at Seoul National University, said.