|Seen are a number of bungeoppang and a solitary ddongppang on display / Korea Times photo by Kim Ju-young|
By Park Ji-won
"Bungeoppang," a fish-shaped pastry filled with red bean paste, has long been one of the most iconic winter street foods in Korea. The name is a combination of the words "bungeo" referring to crucian carp and "ppang" meaning bread in Korean.
The snack even has a variation called "ingeoppang," also a fish-shaped bun filled with red bean paste, vegetables and cream. The word "ingeo" refers to common carp, differentiated from bungeoppang. It is more expensive and crispier than bungeoppang. Now, as bungeoppang has a longer history than inggeoppang, the former is often used to refer to both.
The fish-shaped buns' popularity is attributable to its comparably cheap price; customers could buy two to six pieces of bungeoppang with a 1,000 won bill ($0.90). But the number of vendors has decreased partly because the price of ingredients soared and the vendors were failing to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the buns are gaining more popularity as the country experiences an economic slump.
Despite the increasing popularity, it is not easy to find a bungeoppang vendor depending on your location. Bungeoppang is typically sold in street stalls or from a food truck, so it is difficult to locate since many sellers do not have a fixed location.
So some online users came up with more convenient ways to share bungeoppang and other street food information by region, by creating a smartphone application and a webpage.
Known as "3,000 won in my jacket," it is an iOS-based application released in February which gives some 3,000 locations of vendors of bungeoppang and other street food such as hotteok. The information has been gathered by the developer Depromeet and the app's users since its release. Anyone can add the information, such as price, name of stall and photos of the vendor, with Google Maps showing their real-time location.
The developer consisting of six members came up with the app after simply thinking they want to eat street food and know where to buy it. It wasn't that popular when it was released in February, but the number of downloads soared in November, once topping the app store chart in Korea. More than 70,000 people have downloaded it, its developer said.
It is planning to launch an Android-based app in the near future to meet the demands of Android users.
A website based on Google Maps called Daedongpulppangyeojido or the "great map of street buns," was launched in November 2017, showing some 1,000 vendors selling various street foods such as bungeoppang, walnut snack, egg bread and hotteok. Anyone can add new information about the street food vendors by logging into the site.