Asia’s changing street food scene: Hong Kong & Seoul

In Hong Kong, street food has an actual expiration date. There are only 25 licensed street vendors left — called dai pai dongs — and the government isn’t issuing new licenses.

Food writer Janice Leung Hayes explains, “The license follows the business owner, not the business. If the business owner passes away or decides to retire, they can’t pass the business onto someone else. When their license is over, their stall has to close.”

Over the past decade in South Korea, authorities have been cracking down on unlicensed vendors.

In 2017, the Korea Times said 7,300 people were running street stalls in Seoul, yet only 1,000 had city permission.

Robert Joe, a Korean-American filmmaker based in Seoul, shared, “Street food was always kind of a legal grey area from what I understand, but they really started to crack down.”

There are now government-sponsored markets, but Joe says it just doesn’t have the same appeal.

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