Being the nation’s second largest city and with a population around four million people, one would think that foreign chain restaurants would be flooding to the city. As we all know, however, that hasn’t been the case. Of the top ten largest chains in the world, only McDonald’s (#2), Starbucks (#3), KFC (#4), Pizza Hut (#5), Burger King (#6) and Dunkin Donuts (#7) are in the city.
Seoul, and the surrounding region for that matter, has a plethora of foreign chains that have never made their way south for whatever reason. While some have come and gone over the years down here in Busan, fast food and chain restaurants have been hesitant to expand down south.
Subway (#1), the world’s largest fast food chain with 33,000 stores worldwide just passed its 125th store in the country, has but one within the city limits. Yangsan and Ulsan both have two. Yes, Yangsan.
Two of the latest additions have both been added at Shinsegae since its renovation – Johnny Rockets, which has lines almost continually all day – and Jamba Juice, which is making a second attempt after a failed first in Marine City.
Taco Bell (#9), with eight locations in Seoul, and arguably the most argued about “Mexican” food in the country, entered the Korean market in 2010 to much fanfare. Many Busan residents have been waiting… and waiting… for a taste of the border goodness (if you can call it that).
As long-term residents here know, Busan has had the same foreign options for what seems forever – the same pizza choices, Outback or TGI Fridays, the same taste of Mickey D’s, Popeye’s, KFC and BK, and Quiznos, whose store options are dwindling everyday. The others from the top 10 list Wendy’s (#8) came and left back in the late 1990s while Sonic Drive-in (#10) has never made an international appearance yet.
While not all are down with fast food and foreign chains, sometimes taking a break from the plentiful options of delicious Korean food is needed and a taste of home is welcome.
So the question is: Would you like to see more of the big foreign chains make their way to Busan? Which ones would you like to see come? Vote away, and maybe the powers that be will take notice and hopefully bring your favorite chain to Busan.