Around 2004 in South Korea, buldak became popular for its extreme pungency, as South Korea's long term recession and economic downturn caused people to seek spicy food in order to relieve stress.Buldak set the trend for extremely hot dishes in South Korea, with the rise of buldak franchise restaurants. However, the term buldak had been registered at a patent office in April 2001 by Buwon Food, who claimed the copyright to the name. Strong oppositions were from Hongcho Buldak and other leading buldak restaurants, who argued that the term had been used as a common noun. In 30 April 2008, the Patent Court of Korea agreed that term was generalized and buldak became free for public use. In 2015, buldak was one of the most popular takeaway food in the United Kingdom. In South Korea, although the popularity of buldak has declined in recent years, the food has led to the development of other successful dishes inspired from it, such as buldak-flavored instant noodles by Samyang Food.
Buldak can be grilled or deep-fried bite-size chicken pieces, served in spicy sauce usually including gochutgaru (chili powder), gochujang (chili paste), soy sauce, jocheong (starch syrup), garlic, and ginger. Chili powder made from Cheongyang chili pepper is preferred, as it is spicier than regular chili powder used in Korean recipes. Sliced garae-tteok (rice cakes), melted cheese are common addition to the dish. Mild side dishes such as gyeran-jjim (steamed eggs) or boiled nuringji (scorched rice) are often served with buldak to help with the spiciness. Alcoholic drinks such as beer are also common accompaniments.