Lunch-ee! What Are Korean School Lunches Really Like?

Eating in Korea is quite the experience. As with most Asian cultures there are many things that are edible here that you wouldn’t think of eating in Western cultures; beondegi (silk worm larvae) and haesam (sea cucumber) are a couple that spring to mind. There are quite a few tasty things as well; like bulgogi, mandu and japchae.

However Korean food isn’t what we’re used to so we choose to cook most of our dinners at home or eat out at one of the numerous other Western places available in Cheongju. Lunch however is a different story.

Both of our schools have cafeterias on site where the kids and the teachers eat lunch together every day. Aside from the food, eating your lunch with 100+ kids is definitely an experience. Although the teachers get slightly bigger portions it’s the same food and it’s dished up by lovely lunch ladies in matching uniforms. It costs less than 50,000 won a month for lunch which always consists of rice, kimchi, soup and two other options.

Most days it’s pretty similar – rice, soup, vegetables, meat, kimchi. In summer we get fruit and in winter juice bags or milk. Some days it’s awesome – ham fried rice, spaghetti, sweet rice cakes or black noodles, other days not so much – pilchard soup and blood sausage are two of the not so awesome options we’ve had.

Here are five days of lunch from Geri’s school.

L-R Top: Kimchi, kkul tteok (rice cake with honey), juice bag
L- R Bottom: Ham fried rice, miyeok guk (seaweed soup)

L-R Top: Pork meatballs, kimchi, spicy garlic and tomato pickle
L- R Bottom: Cherry tomatoes, rice, nakjisujebiguk (squid soup)

L-R Top: Sigeumchi namul (boilded spinach) Myeolchi bokkeum (dried tiny anchovies) and kim (dried seaweed)
L- R Bottom: Heukmibap (black rice), watermelon, tofu soup

L-R Top: Ojingeochae bokkeum (dried squid), pajeon (green onion pancake), kimchi
L- R Bottom: Banana, rice, anchovy soup with kelp and squid

L-R Top: Cake thing, kimchi, yogurt
L- R Bottom: Jajangbab (Rice with black sauce, noodles and vegetables), Gyeran-tang (radish and egg soup)

What do you Korean school lunches look like?

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