Food and Drink in South Korea

Find out about traditional South Korean cuisine and dishes to be found throughout the country...

South Korea’s cuisine is healthy, varied and spicy and reflects the country’s historical determination to remain independent from surrounding imperial powers. Find out about the food and drinks of the country, local specialities and eating out in restaurants and from street vendors.

Food is a major part of Korean life and food presentation is very important. Traditional dishes are a source of great national pride as they are distinct from Chinese and Japanese food. The country’s cuisine reflects its cultural history, the land and its long struggle to remain independent from the strong imperial powers that surrounded the country through much of its history.

Korean food is renowned for being spicy, flavoursome and very healthy: many meals are rich in vegetables while meat is used sparingly. Seafood is widely eaten with dried cuttlefish being one of the nation’s most popular snack foods. Meat is often grilled on a barbeque and short grain sticky rice is a staple in the Korean diet. Meals are often accompanied by a large number of side dishes. Garlic, soy beans, soy sauce and chillies are heavily used in Korean cooking. Noodles are also an important part of the cuisine and come in a variety of flavours. They are good for a quick meal.

Traditionally, Korean tables are set so that all dishes are served at the same time. The main dish is usually placed in the middle of the table with the many side dishes placed around it. Rice and soup are eaten with a spoon while chopsticks, usually made of metal, are used for everything else. Etiquette dictates that the spoon and chopsticks should not be held together in the same hand.