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Subway, the most famous sandwich in Korean drama-land

Subway is one of the most famous product placement (PPLs) brands in Korean dramas.

You’ll see everybody eating it, whether they’re on a date, saving a life or taking a break.

No matter how many times they feature the sandwiches being elegantly devoured by flawless Korean actors and actresses though, the American sandwich still seems out of place.

As a viewer, I perfectly understand PPLs are important to generate income for dramas, but having a Subway sandwich turn up in almost every corner of an episode seems to be pushing it.

For example, how would you comfort a guy who attempted to commit suicide? Do you recommend he gets counselling or do you hand him a Subway sandwich like Kim Shin (played by Gong Yoo) did in Goblin (2017)?

My point is, the PPLs can get a tad ridiculous.

Nonetheless, I have to give credit to the writers for managing to insert an honest observation of the sandwich.

When Kim Shin tells Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) that she should have some while he himself is enjoying one, Ji replies “It’s expensive. How can we buy two?” Bingo!

Subway promotes itself in Korean dramas as the meal to have while on a break. You’ll see the Grim Reaper in Goblin eating alone at a Subway outlet after a long day at work.

What better way to end your day sending the dead to the afterlife by having an American sandwich right?

Who ate the most Subway sandwiches in Korean dramas?

Perhaps the people from a specific profession which had the most Subway sandwiches during their breaks in Korean drama-land are the doctors.

In Descendants of the Sun (2016), Dr Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) had a few subtle scenes enjoying the sandwich while Good Doctor (2013), Dr Cha Yoon Seo (Moon Chae Yeon) is seen having a sandwich break with her colleagues at Subway.

Meanwhile, Dr Jung Yoon Do (Yoon Kyun Sang), Dr Jin Seo Woo (Lee Sung Kyung) and a few other colleagues also had their piece of sandwich action (keep it clean, people!) in Doctors (2016).

On top of being a quick grab for lunch, Subway sandwiches are also being advertised as the perfect food for a picnic date.

Of course when you are as beautiful as Yoona and your date is as hot as Ji Chang Wook like in K2 (2016), even the grass looks enticing to eat.

Subway also starred in Prime Ministers and I (2013), Defendant (2017) and Big Man (2014).

The product placement seems to be working well for Subway though. A quick glance at their website revealed that there were 313 stores in South Korea alone, while Malaysia has 220 outlets. (The latter might be debatable though, as there are only 52 locations posted on the website.)

Do you agree this American franchise is overdoing it when it comes to PPL in Korean dramas? Or does their marketing strategy work and make you crave for a Subway while you’re watching a K-drama? Let us know in the comment box!

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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