South Korea’s ‘King of Instant Noodles’ Passes Away at 91

Shin Choon-ho, 91, founder of the wildly successful food and beverage company, Nongshim, died last Saturday of a chronic illness.

Noodle king: Known as the “King of instant noodles,” Shin was the chairman of the South Korean-based company for 29 years, having founded it in 1965, according to the Korea Times.

  • Born in December of 1930 in Ulsan, South Korea, he was one of eight siblings.
  • In 1958, he attended Dong-A University in Busan before traveling to Japan to help his eldest brother, Shin Kyuk-ho, the late founder of conglomerate company Lotte Corporation, with his business upon graduation, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.
  • He found a special interest in instant noodles while working in Japan. Following an argument with Kyuk-ho, Shin ultimately left to create his own company.
  • Originally called the Lotte Food Industrial Company, it was later renamed to its current Nongshim brand in 1978, meaning “farmer’s heart,” according to the Manila Bulletin.

His work: Shin was always insistent on the company creating its own recipes and technology.

  • He’s responsible for leading a team of researchers to test new recipes involving more than 20 types of chili to create a unique South Korean noodle, according to Straits Times.
  • Nongshim’s arguably most popular product is Shin Ramyun, an instant noodle product launched in the mid-1980s.
  • Last year alone, the noodle made the company about $390 million in overseas sales.

His legacy: Shin is survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters. The company will be led by Shin’s son, Dong-won.

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  • Before his death, the founder also donated about $886,000 to Seoul National University Hospital to show his appreciation to the medical staff who have supported him for so long.
  • Shin’s last words to his family were “to love each other,” according to Nongshim.
  • He also had parting words for the employees of his company: “Grow Nongshim in the world with the best quality built out of honesty.”
  • His funeral will be held Tuesday.

Featured Image via Nongshim (left), OpenFoodFacts (CC BY-SA 3.0) (right)

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