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South Korea Welcomes Five Guys with an Overwhelming Response



SEOUL — The Five Guys burger chain opened its first joint in South Korea this week, and the reaction was, well, nuts.

A few South Koreans queued 12 hours before the restaurant opened. Some tried to sell their place in line. Neither the humidity nor the rainy-season showers could deter them.

Once inside, celebrities snapped selfies with the free peanuts. Others listed burgers and fries on resale platforms: An effort to sell two cold cheeseburgers and large fries for $76 set Korean social media abuzz.

“It’s delicious,” declared Yoon Hyung-keun, who was officially the first customer at Five Guys’ first South Korean location, in the upmarket southern Seoul neighborhood of Gangnam, after waiting outside overnight.

The location opened Monday and served more than 700 customers on the first day, according to the company. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Philip Goldberg was among those who cut the opening-day ribbon.

The chain, which opened in Arlington in 1986 and has since spread throughout the Washington region — and now across the world, including Singapore, Hong Kong and China — has joined the likes of Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger here. They also caused minor sensations when opening.

For young South Koreans in particular, burgers and other American fast foods are a little bit exotic, a little bit decadent. Definitely a special treat, rather than a regular occurrence, even when they come wrapped in paper.

Seeing an opportunity to make some cash, Seoul resident Karl Kim joined the queue at Five Guys at 5:45 a.m. Thursday, finding himself sixth in line. That day, the first 20 customers were promised a Five Guys goody bag. Given the sensation that the burgers had caused, Kim thought he could sell both his access and the souvenir bag.

He listed his No. 6 spot in the queue online at $1,520, but in the end, Kim ate the burger himself, and the goody


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