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What food is not allowed in South Korea?


The food culture of South Korea is diverse and rich, with a wide range of dishes that are unique to the country. However, there are certain foods that are not allowed in South Korea due to cultural beliefs, health concerns, and environmental issues. In this article, we will discuss the foods that are banned or restricted in South Korea.

1. Shark Fin Soup

Shark fin soup is a popular delicacy in many Asian countries, but it is banned in South Korea. The ban was introduced in 2013 to protect shark populations from overfishing and to prevent animal cruelty. The process of obtaining shark fins involves cutting off the fins while the shark is still alive, which causes immense pain and suffering.

2. Whale Meat

Whale meat is also banned in South Korea due to international regulations and animal welfare concerns. Although whale meat was once a popular food in South Korea, it is now illegal to buy or sell it. This ban was introduced to protect whale populations from overfishing and to prevent the cruel hunting of whales.

3. Beef from Certain Countries

South Korea has banned beef imports from certain countries due to concerns over mad cow disease. The countries affected by this ban include the United States, Canada, and Australia. While the ban has been lifted in some cases, it remains in place for certain types of beef products.

4. Unpasteurized Milk

Unpasteurized milk is not allowed in South Korea due to health concerns. Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, which can cause serious illness if ingested. To ensure the safety of consumers, all milk sold in South Korea must be pasteurized.

5. Kinder Surprise Eggs

Kinder Surprise eggs are not allowed in South Korea due to safety concerns. These eggs contain a small toy inside, which can pose a choking hazard to children. The import and sale of Kinder Surprise eggs is strictly prohibited in South Korea.

6. Chinese Cabbage from Certain Regions

South Korea has banned the import of Chinese cabbage from certain regions due to concerns over pesticides and heavy metals. The affected regions include parts of China, Japan, and Taiwan. This ban was introduced to protect consumers from potentially harmful substances in their food.

7. Pufferfish

Pufferfish, also known as fugu, is a delicacy in Japan but it is not allowed in South Korea due to safety concerns. Pufferfish contains a potent toxin that can cause paralysis and even death if not prepared properly. The import and sale of pufferfish is strictly prohibited in South Korea.

8. Certain Types of Mushrooms

South Korea has banned the sale and consumption of certain types of mushrooms that are known to be poisonous. These mushrooms include the death cap mushroom and the fly agaric mushroom, both of which can cause serious illness or death if ingested.

9. Foie Gras

Foie gras, a luxury food made from the liver of ducks or geese, is not allowed in South Korea due to animal welfare concerns. The production process involves force-feeding the birds to fatten their livers, which can cause pain and suffering.

10. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

South Korea has strict regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and many GMO products are not allowed in the country. This ban was introduced to protect consumers from potential health risks associated with GMOs.

11. Energy Drinks with High Caffeine Content

South Korea has banned the sale of energy drinks with high caffeine content to minors under the age of 19. This ban was introduced to protect young people from the potential health risks associated with consuming large amounts of caffeine.

12. Conclusion

In conclusion, South Korea has banned or restricted several types of food for various reasons, including animal welfare concerns, health risks, and environmental issues. While some of these bans may seem extreme, they reflect the country’s commitment to protecting consumers and promoting a healthy and sustainable food culture. As visitors to South Korea, it is important to be aware of these restrictions and respect the country’s cultural and culinary traditions.

Can I bring food through customs to Korea?

Is it allowed to bring food into Korea? Yes, you can bring prepared food for your own consumption into Korea, as long as it does not exceed a value of USD 400.

Is cheese allowed in Korea?

To bring U.S. cheese into Korea, there is no need to register the product. However, it is necessary to provide an export certificate or self declaration that includes details of the heat treatment process for dairy products. Additionally, all U.S. imports must have clearly readable labels in the Korean language.

What items are restricted to bring to Korea?

There are import restrictions in South Korea, and international travelers should not bring certain goods into the country. These include weapons and replicas, as well as toys that look like guns or swords. Gunpowder and explosives are also not allowed. Additionally, illegal drugs, such as opium, marijuana, cannabis, and cocaine, are strictly restricted.

What can I not bring to Korea?

The list of illegal drugs includes opium, marijuana/cannabis, cocaine, and more. This also includes illegal items such as certain animal products like ivory, as well as items like medicines, handbags, and cash-related instruments such as cashier’s checks and postal money orders.

Why don’t Koreans eat dairy?

In South Korea, as in other Asian countries, dairy products are not as popular because many people have trouble digesting lactose, which is found in milk. However, cheese is more easily tolerated because it contains less lactose. Korean people find that cheese can help to reduce the spiciness of their food.

Do Koreans eat peanut butter?

Peanuts are a well-liked food in Korea and are enjoyed in various forms. There is a consistent demand for peanuts and peanut butter.

It is worth noting that South Korea also has strict regulations on food labeling and advertising. All food products must be labeled in Korean, and any claims made on the label must be scientifically proven. This ensures that consumers have access to accurate information about the food they are purchasing.

South Korea also has a strong tradition of fermentation, which has been recognized as an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. Fermented foods such as kimchi, soy sauce, and doenjang (soybean paste) are staples of the Korean diet and are considered to have numerous health benefits.

In recent years, there has been growing concern over the environmental impact of food production in South Korea. The country has one of the highest rates of food waste in the world, with over 20% of all food produced going to waste. To address this issue, the government has launched several initiatives aimed at reducing food waste and promoting sustainable agriculture.

Despite these challenges, South Korea’s food culture remains vibrant and diverse, with a wide range of dishes that reflect the country’s unique history and traditions. From spicy stews to savory pancakes to sweet rice cakes, there is something for everyone to enjoy in South Korean cuisine.

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