South Korean Public School Lunches

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution 2012-

South Korean Public School Lunches

Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day May 19th, I decided to track the meals of my South Korea Middle Students, who receive subsided school lunches (dinners for you English). It is unheard of to bring your own lunch to school in South Korea. It has been tradition for the school to provide lunches for the pupils and staff for decades. The monthly cost to students is roughly 40,000 won (US$ 34) for a hot meal every school day.

I took of picture of the school lunch as well as my own vegan lunch, as I find Korean food is not vegan friendly. Guess which lunch is which.






When you compare it to lunches in other countries, including those which advocate a packed lunch, you can see a serious cultural difference. It is obvious that South Korea values nutrition and home cooking although it is more labour and time intensive.

This is a blurb by Jamie about what he and his team are attempting to do with ‘The Food Revolution” and why.

‘According to theĀ World Health Organization, global obesity has more than doubled since 1980 and more than tripled in children. Across the world more than 1.5 BILLION adults are overweight and of those 200 million men and 300 million women are obese. We are in big trouble.

Despite these grim statistics, and general shouting about the problem across the world, no one — not government, schools or doctors — have worked out a plan to give our children the tools to live longer, healthier, happier and more productive lives. Our kids are the first generation predicted to live shorter lives than their parents. As a father this is unacceptable to me — and should be unacceptable to you.

Food Revolution Day is an opportunity for everyone around the world to do something. The Food Revolution and Food Revolution Day is about empowering people through education or, frankly, just inspiring people to be more street-wise about food, where it comes from and how it affects their bodies. If you know how to cook you can save yourself money, feel better and live longer, and the chances are, your kids will follow suit. After all, we all kind of become our parents in the end.’

What do you think of South Korean school lunches? How do they compare to meals served in other countries? Do they provide enough variety or freedom for pupils and their parents? Are they too restrictive or expensive? Leave a comment.

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8 Responses to South Korean Public School Lunches

  1. alua says:

    There was recently an article about a 9-year old who has been taking pictures of school lunches and receiving photographs from other children from around the world.

    Her blog:

  2. Cate says:

    Hi there. My husband and I are vegans and will be teaching in South Korea next year. Is it appropriate to bring our own lunch, or will we be expected to eat in the cafeteria? Any information you can give me about your experiences in the public schools would be helpful. Thank you.

    • VeganUrbanite says:

      Hi Cate,

      I bring my own lunch everyday but sit in the cafeteria with my co-workers. This way I get to enjoy their company, answer questions and nobody feels uncomfortable that I am missing out of anything. I also find lunch a good opportunity to show my co-teachers what I eat for lunch (not just salad) and introduce them to both vegan and international dishes. I usually have to prepare more that I would eat alone as I end up sharing so much of it. Eating together and sharing food is an important part of socializing in South Korea. If you have something unique or delicious to eat it’s polite to share it with your friends. I found that eventually they stopped eating so much of my lunch as they had tried everything I had to offer and the novelty wore off.

      My suggestion would be to tell your principal as soon as possible so that they remove you from the lunch list and do not charge you the monthly fee. You may wish to prepare a polite explanation as to why you don’t eat meat. I was firm in my reasons and concise, stressing that I wasn’t closed minded or fussy but had legitimate reasons for my decision. Out of my three korean schools, I have only ever once had a problem with a principal who teased me a little, saying I was weak and had no energy. But now I am training for a marathon and he says nothing.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. Good Luck

  3. Pingback: Korean School Successfully Experimenting With Vegetarian Meals | Vegan Urbanite

  4. Jo Nicholas says:

    Great information about school lunches. Do you know if there are government or other standards for the food that is provided in schools? Any info would be much appreciated.

  5. Yoora Lee says:

    Tuesday looks pretty good to me

  6. odayra says:

    the food is horrible sorry

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