One of the most interesting parts of our school day is lunch! School lunches in South Korea are very different than in America. While many food experiences here are not what we’re used to, we’re always willing to give new food a try!
Teachers Eat with the Students
Instead of wandering off to a separate lounge area, teachers eat in the cafeteria with the students. I think this is a great way to interact with the students outside of class time. It also fits in with the cultural experience of eating together as a group, which is common in South Korea.
Teachers and Students Eat the Same Lunch
Each day, the teachers and students are both served the same lunch. This is much different than the United States, in which there are usually multiple lunch options for students and teachers. Most items are scooped on your tray for you and if you really don’t want something in particular, you don’t have to take it.
No One Packs a Lunch
I have yet to see anyone pack a lunch at school. This is the case with both teachers and students. If I really wanted to pack a lunch, I’m sure I could — but I feel the lunch I get here is healthier than what I would bring and I want to try as much Korean food as possible to experience the culture more.
School Lunches in South Korea Seem Healthier
While I haven’t taught in the United States, I have been a student. The lunches I remember were much more unhealthy than what I see on my tray here. Everyday there is some type of rice, a soup, and kimchi. There are different fruits and vegetables and protein sources depending on the day. I feel that my tray always has a nice variety of foods, which makes me feel like I’m eating a healthier meal. I usually feel full after eating my lunch at school.
There Are No Drinks Served with Lunch
Unlike in the United States, there are no drinks served with school lunches. I’m so used to seeing a milk carton on lunch trays! In South Korea, you don’t even have a water cup with your meal. This took some getting used to, but I always have my water bottle back at my desk. My one travel school does have a water dispenser available with little cups right by the exit of the cafeteria. If something tastes extra spicy, I eat rice with it!
School Lunches in South Korea Are Very Affordable
I’m not sure what students pay for lunch, but we get a great deal. As foreign teachers, we pay about 50,000 won per month for our lunches. I’ve been told that this price varies by school, but 50,000 won is about $45 a month! This is extremely affordable as it breaks down to be a little over $2 per lunch!
While eating school lunches in South Korea has taken some getting used to, we often enjoy what we’re eating. My favorite meals so far are Korean spaghetti and Korean steak, which are pork patties with a delicious sauce! Nick’s favorite soup is kimchi chi gae, which is a spicy kimchi soup. As for our least favorite lunches, sometimes the seafood items can be a bit much, especially when having to worry about picking out small bones.
We hope you enjoyed this look into what school lunches are like for us in South Korea.