Diet in Korea

  • Dae Young KwonEmail author
Living reference work entry


These days, many foreign peoples are interested in Korean foods and diet, because of its history and healthiness. Many scholars ask us what is the nature of Korean diet in addition to history, culture, and health. When it comes to the values embedded in Korean food, which has traditions that date back thousands of years, three things come to mind. The first is respect and looking out for others, the second is balance and harmony, and the third is health. When defining the K-diet, various components are considered, such as raw materials or ingredients, traditional cooking methods, technology, and fundamental principles and knowledge. However, it would be preferable to establish the definition of Korean food by focusing on the preservation of traditional methods and core principles. The Korean meal table is characterized by servings of bap (cooked rice), kuk (kinds of soup), and dishes on one table. While various cooking methods are used in Korean cuisine, the most representative method is fermentation which enhances both the flavor/taste and preservation of the food. The K-diet is composed of bap and kuk and various dishes with one serving called bapsang. Kimchi is always served at every meal. The principal aspects of the K-diet include proportionally high consumption of vegetables, moderate to high consumption of legumes and fish, and low consumption of red meat. Banchan, a kind of side dishes, is mostly seasoned with various Jang (fermented soy products), medicinal herbs, and sesame or perilla oil. The points of taste in K-diet are quite different from those of western tastes. Unique expressions of Korean taste are kan, the right taste, and siwonhan-mat, which is typical in Korean delicious tastes. This chapter provides the features of the K-diet as well as an introduction to K-food and the traditions and health value of the K-diet and K-food. Moreover, this is vital to promote the cultural values of Korea (K-value) by bringing together traditional principles and scientific evidence. Lastly, a couple of representative bapsang (K-diet) and some representative K-foods (K-food) among a hundred kinds of Korean foods will be introduced.



This work is done with support of project of nutritional epigenomics study on Korean healthy diet (E0150300-05) in part from Korea Food Research Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Korea Food Research InstituteKorea Academy of Science and TechnlogyWanjuRepublic of Korea

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