Ahn Cheol-soo Criticized for Not Knowing the Price of Ramen

National Assembly Member Ahn Cheol-soo, beloved by the left and young voters in South Korea for his sincerity and empathy for the common man, was left fumbling and at a loss for words when he was asked about the price of a package of ramen during an Assembly hearing. During testimony about the problems facing his business, a shop owner held up a package of five servings of Shin ramen and asked Ahn what he thought it cost. Ahn guessed that the ramen, the most well known and most consumed brand in Korea, cost ₩1000, significantly off of the market price of ₩3170.

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Reaction to the story online was almost unanimous in defense of Ahn and criticism of the conservative newspaper that first carried the story. The debate centered around whether Ahn’s ignorance revealed him to be merely faking empathy for the common man or whether this was all just a smear attempt from the right wing press.

Article from MBN news:

“Do you know how much ramen costs?” Ahn Cheol-soo at a loss for words

New National Assembly Member Ahn Cheol-soo got his campaign for pragmatic politics underway with his first committee hearing with small business owners.

But when a business owner questioned Ahn about whether he even knew the price of a package of ramen, the Assembly Member was left grasping for an answer.

“I think that holding a hearing with ordinary citizens who are in tough economic situations and listening to their opinions could be a good start for finding a solution,” said National Assembly Member Ahn Cheol-soo.


During the hearing, one business owner placed a wholesale box of ramen next to the microphone and took out a package, pointing out how his economic situation has worsened in recent years.

The man asked Ahn, “Do you know how much this costs? You don’t know?”

Ahn responded, “maybe 1000 won?”

“1000 won? This is what ordinary people eat every day. And Assembly Member Ahn doesn’t know? You should know these kind of things. It’s not enough to just practice politics in the National Assembly.”

shin ramen

The businessman was concerned not only by the lack of policies to protect small businesses, but by the lack of will among politicians to help them.

Ahn has made his name as a politician by pressing for solutions to basic economic issues.

The question now arises whether Ahn will be able to successfully introduce any of his “New Politics”, which claim to put the concerns of citizens as the highest priority.

Comments from Daum:

카이바시크님

Seriously, I don’t know the price of ice cream or ramen. They jack up the price, then they have sales all the time. If you ever buy it for face value at a store you feel like you are being ripped off.

태엽푸는새님

Nongshim has the most expensive ramen. 1000 won would have been the right answer. And is this reporter a hack for the president’s camp or what? Park doesn’t even know what the minimum wage is

19대 대통령 안철수님


What a pitiful performance by our media, they ignore the content of the committee hearing and only focus on the ramen price question. While only two members of the National Assembly showed up to the hearing on economic problems affecting the ordinary citizen, isn’t it noteworthy to see their effort to focus on pragmatic issues and their attempt to find a solution?

선거말아먹기전문인력-문죄인님


This is all I am seeing, “all ramen costs the same!!! How could he know all ramen prices!! Do you know the price of everything on the market!! Even if he says he doesn’t know, isn’t it more important that he is working hard to find out!!”

오지님


Do you think it would have solved your problems if he had known the price of ramen? ssibal, for the sake of helping people like you and me he left his position as a professor and is trying to be clean in politics, ssibal

은하님


Come on, pick your fights better. I feed my children as a meal two to three times a week and I don’t even know the exact price of ramen. Ramen is cheaper than bread and better for filling your stomach. And yet I will stand by Ahn to the very end. Because I know that he is sincere..^^

드림보이님


Whatever, I don’t know the price of ramen either. I just get a big bag at the supermarket, so I have no idea how much each one costs. (does anyone even look at the price when they buy ramen? they just look at the brand name) For the bus and subway as well, you just tap your card at the turnstile and don’t even know the price. Don’t try to make an issue out of nothing.

Fiesta님

So since I know the price of ramen I would be a good politician? You’ve got to think about the real issues rather than something minor like how much ramen costs… tsk tsk

뉴라이트역사교과서님


What can you do when the price of goods changes with every passing day. I drink milk every day but I don’t know how much it costs. This story is just an attempt to make a big issue out of nothing.

통찰자님

If someone doesn’t smokes, why would you ask them how much cigarettes cost?ㅡ,.ㅡ

CkrNCer님


Is asking about the cost of ramen a criticism? Now the conservative media are starting to show their true colors. They saw the far-right news channel FOX in America and started thinking it would be great if something like that existed over here, so they got together to concoct a new communications law to accomplish their goals. When it comes to politicizing the news, they’re just getting started.

Comments from Twitter:

부국환경팬클럽 [email protected]


Ahn’s “New Politics” has now turned completely into “Fool Politics ” ke ke

수유리 [email protected]

They are saying that Ahn was left at a loss when asked “Do you know the price of ramen?” but that can happen. Couldn’t he have just answered, “I don’t really eat ramen? We know that Chung Mong-Joon has struggled to answer when asked if he knows the cost of a bus ride, just tell people when you don’t know the answer

외톨이 [email protected]

Does eating ramen every day make you one of the common people? I don’t know the cost of ramen myself, of course it would be good to know but how can you know the prices of all the different kinds of consumer goods. The only things a political leader needs to know is history, justice, and values

행복하세요 [email protected]

Can a man who claims to represent the common man play that role in politics if he doesn’t know the price of the food that common men eat?

송추강 [email protected]

A politician who doesn’t know the price of ramen, a staple for his “common man”, I bet he knows the price of stocks in his company

聲優, 민주시민 권창욱 [email protected]

You think a pack of five ramen is ₩1000? I didn’t think you were that ignorant… no better than Chung Mong-Joon

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  • YouAreSilly

    Ramen isn’t real food. Ahn Cheol-See should be praised for setting a good example and not eating that crap.

  • ….

    If not knowing the price of ramen is the biggest political scandal in South Korea now, I’d say they have it pretty good.

    • jon776

      Nah, it’s just that what’s really important is ignored.

  • Noir12

    I bet the journalist who covered this “story” was living off of ramen.

    • Danny

      Lol’d so hard. +1

  • HelloWorld

    The current deputy prime minister of Japan, Taro Aso was asked a similar question by a member of the opposing party back in 2008 during a national assembly
    Aso answered 400 yen which is around twice as much as it ‘s usually sold for.

    just an attempt to show how out of touch politicians are with ordinary citizens
    not really news worthy…

    • Butsu

      It does a pretty poor job of proving that point to be honset.

  • commamder

    In a word, the politicallt motivated attack. The question about the Ramen price cannot be a meaninful gauge of his political ideas.

    Most fathers may not know what amount of tuition fees mothers pay for their middle school and high school students.

    Does that mean they are not fathers of true meaning? What a farce!

  • chucky3176

    Even I didn’t know how much they cost. Rough estimates: three thousand
    won, which is about $2.60 for a pack of five is about 52 cents each, or
    about 650 to 700 won. Close enough. But one point I want make is that
    Koreans are unjustified in always complaining that the prices of living
    are too high. Every country in the world have seen prices of
    necessities go up and up, not just Korea. Instead of whining about not
    having enough money to live on, fix the real problem – high cost of
    private education where billions are thrown away in waste each year for
    inferior education, and the high cost of renting homes and high
    mortgages. Both of these are fueled by private household debt which in
    turn strangles domestic consumption leading to bad domestic economy with
    fewer jobs. The inflation is now one percent, after a steady and rapid decline since last year. Now Korea is in real danger of Japanese style deflation where prices are rolled back with no real wage/job growth.

  • Peter Pottinger

    The point all you kids are missing, people don’t WANT to eat 400yaun raman, but they HAVE to. Think about it for a second.

    • chucky3176

      That’s my point. Complaining about high cost of living, why aren’t there any people complaining about average family having to shell out a third of their monthly income on private education, and half their income in housing? Those two elements alone make up a big majority of household spending in South Korea. Unlike Americans, Koreans aren’t going out to buy consumer goods on credit cards. Education and houses are two fundamental individual rights, yet Koreans are forced to overspend on them. The best thing that the Korean government can start with is, outlaw and force the closure of hundreds of thousands of private tutoring centers around the country, and spend public money on improving public education. That alone will free up at least $500 a month for an average Korean family with an average middle class income. The Korean family can spend that money paying down the mortgage or they can use that money to spend on the Korean economy. The burden of education on Korean families are just abnormal and unsustainable.

      • Kate

        No one HAS to pay for private education though. They think they have to but they really don’t. At some point, a generation of Koreans need to collectively say “No more” to hagwons and be done with it. For profit “schools” ran by profit driven business men/women with no knowledge of how to actually teach/run a school/ child development/. etc, etc,. have zero business running a “school”. These hagwons are nothing but a bunch of liars. They’re going to tell the parents whatever they want to hear as long as tuition is paid at the end of each month and the parents, so desperate to see that their kid is keeping up with/doing better than the Kim’s kid, will keep on paying, all the while, their kid is mindlessly going through text book after text book with “teachers” who aren’t really teachers, they didn’t spend 4 years learning how to teach, they have no real teaching experience, they have no idea what curriculum standards, pedagogical methodologies, proper assessment, etc,. etc,. There is a reason why real teachers have to go to school to be real teachers, it’s a profession with real skills and methodologies and standards , not something that “John with an English Lit degree” can do.

        Korean kids deserve better, qualified teachers and schools. There’s so much that needs to change though. This over competitiveness is just getting ridiculous and collectively destroying the society. Men and women need to work 40 hour weeks, that’s it, or be paid over time accordingly. Children need to spend no more then 8 hours at a school, that’s it. They need to go home and see their parents, they need to be kids. And something parents don’t seem to understand is that they, themselves, are the greatest educators. A parent can teach their child so much, they don’t need private schools to do it.

        Eh just my 2 cents.

  • dk2020

    Shin Ramyun Black my fave goes for about a buck a pack in the US .. I like mines with an egg, spam, butter, green onions, and cheese .. Sapporo Ichibahn ramen is a close second .. Japanese ramen houses are becoming really popular in the US ..
    Daikokuya, Foo Foo Tei, and Shinsengumi in Little Tokyo is the bee’s knees.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    You think that with the sheer ‘outrage’ over the price, the author acts like their economy is based on the average cost of ramen.

    Like the Big Mac Index but sillier.

  • Marcus Muller

    “1000 won? This is what ordinary people eat every day. And Assembly Member Ahn doesn’t know? You should know these kind of things. It’s not enough to just practice politics in the National Assembly.”

    This is what ordinary people eat every day… What..? I love instant noodles as much as the next guy, but I can’t fathom eating it EVERY DAY.

  • x1sfg

    Our political elite in DC doesn’t know what the cost of food for us peons is either. Damn John Kerry didn’t know what Wendy’s was and that orc of a wife of his didn’t know what chili was. Went back to their yacht to have lobster, which ironically was a poor man’s food during the colonial era

  • bultak23

    I don’t know about all of Ahn Cheol-soo’s policies, but I know he cares about the downtrodden. This is a rare quality in politicians and it should be noted.

  • Ibyangin

    Politics these days is about top of mind prices for Ramyun?? Heck, I don’t even know what I pay for 8 eggs or a cup of coffee. Who knows prices today when you use a card to pay for everything!

    Ahn is a promising politician who seems not to be connected to the standard lobby’s and political establishment!!

  • 유후

    우와 그런데 여기 자동으로 번역되는 건가요? 신기하네!!!

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