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Are groceries expensive in Korea?


Groceries are an essential daily need for every individual, and their prices determine the standard of living for people. Korea is an advanced country with a high standard of living, and it is undeniable that the cost of living is relatively high. However, there are conflicting opinions on the cost of groceries in Korea. Some argue that groceries in Korea are expensive, while others say they are cheap. This article will aim to provide a detailed insight into the cost of groceries in Korea.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Groceries in Korea

Several factors affect the cost of groceries in Korea. Firstly, the location of the store plays a major role in determining the price of groceries. Stores located in urban areas tend to be more expensive than those in rural areas. Secondly, the quality of the product also affects its price. High-quality products will generally be more expensive than low-quality ones. Thirdly, seasonal changes can also cause fluctuations in prices. For example, during winter, prices of vegetables and fruits tend to increase due to low supply.

Comparison with Other Countries

To determine whether groceries are expensive in Korea, it is essential to compare them with other countries. According to Numbeo, a website that compares prices around the world, groceries in Korea are relatively expensive compared to other countries such as India, Vietnam or Indonesia but cheaper than other developed countries like Japan or Singapore.

Types of Groceries and their Prices

There are different types of groceries available in Korea, including fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products and more. The prices of these products vary depending on their quality and location. For example, a kilogram of beef in Seoul can range from 10,000 KRW ($8) to 30,000 KRW ($25), while a litre of milk ranges from 1,500 KRW ($1.2) to 3,000 KRW ($2.5).

Price Comparison of Groceries in Different Stores

It is important to compare prices of groceries in different stores to determine the cost of living in Korea. The cost of living also depends on the type of store one shops at. For example, a supermarket chain like E-mart may have slightly higher prices than a discount store like Homeplus.

Imported Goods and their Prices

Korea is known for its strict import regulations, which affect the availability and price of imported goods. Imported goods tend to be more expensive than local products due to high taxes and tariffs. For example, a bottle of imported wine can cost over 30,000 KRW ($25), while a bottle of local wine can be as cheap as 10,000 KRW ($8).

Groceries and the Korean Economy

The cost of groceries is also influenced by the state of the economy in Korea. When the economy is stable, prices tend to remain constant. However, during economic crises or inflationary periods, prices tend to increase significantly.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Grocery Prices

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected grocery prices globally, and Korea is no exception. Due to border restrictions and disruptions in supply chains, some products’ prices have increased, while others have decreased.

Tips for Saving Money on Groceries in Korea

It is possible to save money on groceries in Korea by shopping at local markets and discount stores, buying seasonal products, and taking advantage of promotions and sales.


In conclusion, the cost of groceries in Korea depends on several factors such as location, quality of products, seasonality and import taxes. While groceries may be relatively expensive compared to other countries, it is possible to save money by shopping smartly.


1. Numbeo. (2021). Cost of Living in Korea. Retrieved from
2. Korea Exposé. (2020). Will COVID-19 Make Groceries More Expensive in South Korea?. Retrieved from

Is buying groceries in Korea expensive?

In South Korea, buying food in small quantities can be costly since most stores sell products in bulk. However, dining out is generally affordable if you stick to Korean cuisine, which makes it a more feasible option for single expats rather than buying groceries.

Is food expensive in South Korea?

Yes, food in Korea is cheap.

How much money do you need for food in Korea?

The average cost of food for one day in South Korea is approximately ₩29,500 (equivalent to US$24). This range is demonstrated through examples such as street food, which typically costs between ₩1000 to ₩5000 (equivalent to US$0.82-$4.00) per day. Alternatively, a more upscale barbequed pork meal can cost around ₩40,000 (approximately US$33).

Is $100 dollars a lot in South Korea?

From my personal experience in Itaewon, I found that US$100 per day is sufficient, although the area is generally more expensive compared to other parts of Seoul, and haggling is necessary.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in South Korea?

At a national scale, a family consisting of four members typically spends around 2,300,000 KRW per month (equivalent to 2,000 USD) on their living expenses, excluding rent. For a single expatriate, the monthly living expenses are estimated to be 652,000 KRW (approximately 560 USD), excluding rent.

How much is a Big Mac in Korea?

As of March 3, 2023, the cost of a combination meal that includes a Big Mac or a similar item in a fast food restaurant in Seoul is ₩7,898.

The Future of Grocery Prices in Korea

As the world continues to face economic uncertainties, it is difficult to predict the future of grocery prices in Korea. However, with advancements in technology and changes in consumer behavior, there may be a shift towards more online shopping and home delivery services. This could potentially lower the cost of groceries as stores compete for customers in the digital market.

Additionally, the government may introduce policies to stabilize the cost of living in Korea, including subsidies for essential goods like groceries. With these measures in place, it is possible that grocery prices in Korea may become more affordable for the average consumer in the future.

The Importance of Budgeting for Groceries

Regardless of the cost of groceries in Korea, it is important for individuals and families to budget their expenses wisely. This includes setting a budget for groceries each month and sticking to it. By planning meals ahead of time and making a list before going to the store, one can avoid overspending and unnecessary purchases.

Moreover, making small changes like buying generic brands or purchasing items in bulk can also help save money on groceries. By being mindful of one’s spending habits and making smart choices when it comes to grocery shopping, it is possible to maintain a high standard of living without breaking the bank.

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