In the 11th episode of Crash Landing On You, Gu Seung Joon pointed out how ramyeon has a social implication in South Korea. He warned the lovely Seo Dan that the phrase "Would you like to have some ramyeon?" is not something you can say to just anyone.
If you're an avid K-drama fan, you'll know that the line is used as a pickup line or a way to invite someone into your home and have much, much more than ramyeon with him or her. They say it's the South Korean equivalent of asking someone you like, "Want to Netflix and chill?" But did you know why exactly ramyeon has a sexual innuendo Korea?
Remember these scenes?
In Crash Landing On You, Seung Joon says it's okay when he's the one saying the line but not when another man does it. Spoiler Alert: Dan asks Seung Joon why she'll refuse the invitation when she likes "it," and Seung Joon starts overthinking what (or who) Dan likes—ramyeon, the man who invites her for ramyeon, or Seung Joon?
Ramen having a double meaning was featured in another hit rom-com: What's Wrong With Secretary Kim? In the fifth episode, Kim Mi So's eldest sister was outraged that Vice Chairman Lee Young Joon was in Mi So's house and that they had—not jjolmyeon or jjajangmyeon—ramyeon together. Mi So and Young Joon were both innocent about it and thought they were merely sharing instant noodles. But, as Young Joon's best bro explained, ramyeon is just an excuse to be intimate.
If you have an amazing memory or if you were simply obsessed with the Song-Song couple, you might also remember this particular scene in their drama Descendants of the Sun. At least, now you know why Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) reacted that way when Yoo Shi Jin (Song Joong Ki) asked her to have ramyeon with him.
And, it's not always said by "innocent" characters. In the finale of Because This Is My First Life, the line was actually used by a woman asking her oppa if he wants some sexy time.
So what does the line mean?
How ramyeon as an excuse for intimacy became a thing
What better way to find out about Korean culture than to ask a Korean? We asked Koreans to shed some light on where the pickup line originated and if it's really used in South Korea.
Suejin Song, a marketer in her early 30s, said that the line was actually coined way back in 2001. "In the movie Spring Days Go [aka One Fine Spring Day], the heroine played by Lee Young-ae [falls in love with the] male lead played by Yoo Ji-tae. [She says to him], 'Do you want to eat ramen?' Since then, it has become a term used at the beginning of a relationship." Here's the exact clip (you'll hear the line at the 00:48 mark):
Another Korean native (who's now based in New Zealand), Hyunchul Kim, traces it back to the same film. The Korean language teacher and YouTube content creator said that the characters in the movie "ate ramyeon together and had a sexual relationship." We asked him if people really use the line IRL, and he said, "Yes, but I think people use it as a joke more."
PSA: Hyunchul also mentioned that there are other phrases with double meanings in South Korea, and he might just make a video lesson about them some day. Let's tune in for that!
How to say the pickup line
Want to try the pickup line when you're in Korea? Or, maybe you want to experiment if it works on Pinoys, too? We gotchu.
In Hangul, the line goes "Ra-myeon meog-go kal-lae?" Saying it with a cute little wink or a suggestive smile (or both!) might help make your intentions clearer. ;)
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