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Do Koreans eat dinner early?


Korea is known for its unique and fascinating culture, including its cuisine. One of the questions that often comes up in discussions about Korean food is whether Koreans eat dinner early. In this article, we will explore this question in detail, looking at the cultural, historical, and social factors that contribute to Korean dining habits.

The History of Korean Cuisine

To understand Korean dining habits, it’s important to look at the history of Korean cuisine. The traditional Korean diet features a variety of rice dishes, soups, stews, and side dishes, all designed to provide a balanced and nutritious meal. These dishes have been influenced by various factors over the centuries, including China, Japan, and Mongolia.

The Importance of Sharing Meals in Korean Culture

In Korea, meals are often seen as a communal experience meant to be shared with family and friends. This cultural value has an impact on when Koreans eat their meals. Many Koreans prefer to eat dinner earlier in the evening so they can spend more time with their loved ones.

The Impact of Modernization on Korean Dining Habits

As Korea has become more modernized over the years, its dining habits have shifted as well. For example, many Koreans now work long hours and prefer to eat dinner later in the evening after work. Additionally, Western fast food chains have become more popular in Korea, which has influenced some young people to adopt a more Western-style dining schedule.

The Role of Convenience Stores in Korean Dining Habits

Convenience stores are ubiquitous in Korea and offer a wide range of snacks and meals that can be eaten on-the-go. Many Koreans rely on convenience store food for quick meals throughout the day, including dinner. This has contributed to a shift towards eating dinner later in the evening.

The Influence of Climate on Korean Dining Habits

Korea has four distinct seasons, and the climate can have an impact on when Koreans eat their meals. For example, during the hot summer months, many Koreans prefer to eat dinner later in the evening when it’s cooler outside. During the winter, however, they may opt for an earlier dinner to avoid going out in the cold.

The Role of Social Status in Korean Dining Habits

In Korea, social status can play a role in dining habits. For example, businesspeople may be expected to entertain clients over dinner, which can lead to later dining times. Additionally, young people may choose to eat dinner later in the evening to socialize with friends.

The Impact of Religion on Korean Dining Habits

Religion can also influence Korean dining habits. For example, many Buddhists follow a strict vegetarian diet and may prefer to eat dinner earlier in the evening to ensure they have time to prepare their meals. Additionally, some Christians may choose to have a family dinner after attending church on Sunday.

The Health Benefits of Eating Dinner Early

There are many health benefits associated with eating dinner early. For example, studies have shown that eating earlier in the evening can lead to better digestion and improved sleep quality. Additionally, it can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of obesity.

The Drawbacks of Eating Dinner Late

While there are some benefits to eating dinner later in the evening, there are also some drawbacks. For example, it can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to indigestion. Additionally, it can be difficult to find healthy meal options late at night.

The Influence of Globalization on Korean Dining Habits

Globalization has had a significant impact on Korean dining habits. As Korean cuisine has become more popular around the world, Koreans have also been exposed to a wider range of international foods. This has led to a shift towards a more diverse and global dining culture.

The Future of Korean Dining Habits

As Korea continues to modernize and adapt to changing cultural norms, its dining habits are likely to continue evolving as well. However, the importance of communal dining and the traditional Korean diet are likely to remain important cultural values.


In conclusion, the question of whether Koreans eat dinner early is a complex one that depends on a variety of factors. While there are some cultural and historical reasons why Koreans may prefer to eat dinner earlier in the evening, modernization and globalization have also had an impact on dining habits. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual Korean to decide when they want to have their dinner based on their own personal preferences and circumstances.

How many times a day do Koreans eat?

In Korean culture, there is no distinction between meals, so it is common to have rice as a staple food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to rice, a small bowl of soup may also be served. Hot pots, which are thick and salty, are placed in the middle of the table for everyone to share.

What do Korean people often eat late at night?

Jeon, a popular snack food in Korea, is particularly enjoyed by Koreans during rainy weather as the sound of rain may remind them of jeon being cooked. Makgeolli, an unrefined rice wine made with rice and malt, is often paired with jeon to enhance the overall experience.

Do Koreans have a saying before eating?

Koreans use the phrase “jal meokgetseumnida” before a meal as a way to express gratitude towards the person who prepared the food. It can be interpreted as a way of saying “thank you for making this meal, I will enjoy it because of your efforts”.

What is the dining etiquette in Korea?

In Korean culture, it is customary to use both hands when passing dishes, glasses, or bowls as a sign of respect. Additionally, it is considered impolite to refill one’s own drink, especially when it comes to alcohol. Instead, it is customary to pour drinks for others at the table and allow them to reciprocate.

What are 3 eating habits in Korea?

The K-diet emphasizes eating a lot of vegetables and moderate to high amounts of legumes and fish, while limiting intake of red meat. Banchan, a type of Korean side dish, is typically seasoned with fermented soy products, herbs, and oils such as sesame or perilla.

Do Koreans eat rice at every meal?

In Korea, rice is the main focus of every meal. The dinner table is called a “bapsang,” meaning “rice table,” because all the side dishes, soups, stews, meat, or fish are meant to complement the bowl of rice. Even though a meal can consist of just rice, it is not considered a complete meal without it.

Another factor that can influence when Koreans eat dinner is their occupation. For example, those who work in the service industry may have irregular schedules and may need to eat dinner at different times. Students may also have varying dinner schedules depending on their class schedules and extracurricular activities.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend in Korea towards healthy eating and wellness. This has led to an increased interest in plant-based diets and organic foods. As a result, some Koreans may choose to eat dinner earlier in the evening to ensure they have time to prepare fresh and healthy meals.

Korean dining habits can also vary depending on the region of the country. For example, those who live in rural areas may have earlier dinner times due to agricultural work schedules. In contrast, those who live in urban areas may have more flexible dining schedules due to the availability of convenience stores and fast food restaurants.

It’s worth noting that not all Koreans eat dinner at the same time. While there may be cultural and societal expectations around dining habits, individuals may choose to eat dinner at a time that suits their personal preferences and lifestyle. Ultimately, the decision of when to eat dinner is a personal one that can be influenced by a wide range of factors.

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