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What foods are commonly eaten in South Korea?


South Korean cuisine has gained immense popularity globally for its unique flavors, ingredients, and cooking styles. The food culture of South Korea is a reflection of the country’s history, geography, and social customs. Koreans are known for their love of spicy food, fermented foods, and rice-based dishes. In this article, we will explore the traditional and modern Korean dishes that are commonly eaten in South Korea.

Traditional Korean Cuisine

The traditional Korean cuisine consists of rice, soup, vegetables, and meat. Some of the most popular dishes include kimchi (fermented cabbage), bulgogi (grilled marinated beef), bibimbap (mixed rice bowl), japchae (stir-fried glass noodles), and galbi (grilled beef short ribs). Koreans also enjoy a variety of soups such as samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup), doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew), and seolleongtang (ox bone soup).

Street Food

Street food is an integral part of Korean cuisine. Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), hotteok (sweet pancakes), sundae (blood sausage), and gimbap (rice rolls) are some of the popular street foods in South Korea. Koreans also love snacking on fried chicken, fish cakes, and grilled corn on the cob.

Seafood Delights

South Korea is a peninsula surrounded by water, making seafood an essential part of its cuisine. Koreans enjoy a variety of seafood including octopus, squid, clams, shrimp, and crab. Some popular seafood dishes include hoe (raw fish slices), haemul pajeon (seafood pancake), and jjamppong (spicy seafood noodle soup).

Barbecue Culture

Barbecue is a staple of South Korean cuisine, and Koreans take their barbecue seriously. Korean barbecue involves grilling meat at the table and seasoning it with soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. Some popular meats used in Korean barbecue include beef, pork, chicken, and duck.

Vegetarian Options

Although Korean cuisine is known for its meat dishes, there are plenty of vegetarian options available as well. Some popular vegetarian dishes include japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables), bibimbap (mixed rice bowl with vegetables), and kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew). Koreans also enjoy a variety of tofu dishes such as dubu jjigae (tofu stew) and sundubu jjigae (soft tofu stew).

Bakery Culture

South Korea has a thriving bakery culture, and Koreans love their bread and pastries. Some popular bakery items include red bean buns, sausage bread, cream puffs, and croissants. Koreans also enjoy sweet potato cakes, rice cakes, and hotteok (sweet pancakes) from street vendors.

Celebratory Foods

Koreans have a tradition of eating specific foods during special occasions such as weddings and holidays. Tteokguk (rice cake soup) is eaten on New Year’s Day to bring good luck. Songpyeon (half-moon shaped rice cakes) are eaten during Chuseok (harvest festival). Janchi guksu (feast noodles) are served at weddings and birthdays.

Fast Food Chains

South Korea has its share of fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King. However, Koreans have also adapted these chains to fit their taste buds. McDonald’s in South Korea offers bulgogi burgers and kimchi burgers. KFC has spicy chicken and honey butter chicken.

Regional Specialties

South Korea has distinct regional specialties that vary in taste and ingredients. Jeonju is famous for its bibimbap, while Busan is known for its seafood dishes. Andong is famous for its jjimdak (braised chicken), and Jeju Island is known for its black pork.

Modern Fusion Cuisine

Korean cuisine has also undergone a modern transformation, where chefs are experimenting with fusion cuisine. Korean-style tacos, burgers, and pizzas are becoming popular in South Korea. Chefs are also incorporating traditional Korean ingredients into their dishes to give them a unique twist.


South Korean cuisine offers a wide range of flavors, textures, and ingredients. From traditional dishes to modern fusion cuisine, Korean food is a culinary delight that showcases the country’s rich history and culture. Whether you’re a meat lover or vegetarian, there’s something for everyone in South Korean cuisine.

What do Koreans eat mostly?

Korean food mainly consists of rice, seafood, vegetables, and meat (in South Korea). Dairy is not commonly consumed in traditional Korean cuisine. Korean meals are identified by the number of side dishes (called banchan) that come with steamed short-grain rice.

What is the most common meal in Korea?

Bulgogi is a highly sought-after Korean dish made from thinly sliced meat with a delightful smoky-sweet taste. It can be prepared through broiling, grilling, or stirring, and is typically served with lettuce wraps and gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) for adding flavor and heat to the beef.

What do Korean eat for breakfast?

In South Korea, breakfast typically includes soup, rice, and various side dishes. Popular breakfast soups include galbitang, kongnamul bap, kimchijjigae, and manduguk. Another common breakfast option is baekban, which features a small bowl of soup alongside multiple side dishes.

What do South Koreans eat everyday?

In Korea, the typical daily meal consists of steamed white rice, vegetable soup flavored with soybean paste, and kimchi. To accompany these main dishes, side dishes such as steamed or seasoned vegetables, fish, and meat are also served.

What are 3 eating habits in Korea?

The K-diet emphasizes eating a lot of vegetables, a moderate to high amount of legumes and fish, and very little red meat. Banchan, a Korean side dish, is typically seasoned with fermented soy products, medicinal herbs, and oils like sesame or perilla.

How many meals do Koreans eat in a day?

In Korean culture, there is no specific separation between meals, so it’s common to eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Along with a bowl of rice, a small serving of soup may also be served. Hot pots, which are thicker and saltier, are placed in the center of the table for communal sharing.

In addition to the diverse range of dishes, South Korea also has a unique dining culture. Koreans often share their food with others, and it is common to order multiple dishes and share them family-style. Korean meals are usually accompanied by banchan, which are small side dishes such as kimchi, pickled vegetables, and tofu.

Another aspect of Korean cuisine that stands out is the use of fermented foods. Kimchi, one of the most famous fermented dishes, is eaten with almost every Korean meal. Other fermented foods include doenjang (soybean paste), gochujang (red pepper paste), and makgeolli (rice wine).

South Korea is also home to a variety of food markets where locals and tourists can try different Korean dishes. Gwangjang Market in Seoul is famous for its bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) and mayak gimbap (addictive seaweed rolls). Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul is a seafood lover’s paradise, where visitors can choose their own fresh seafood and have it cooked on the spot.

Overall, South Korean cuisine offers a unique and diverse culinary experience that is worth exploring. From traditional dishes to modern fusion cuisine, there is no shortage of delicious options to try.

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