Korean School Lunch vs. American Lunch

Hey folks!

So I am almost finished with another full week of teaching in Korea. Things are actually going really well and the kids seem to like me.

In this post, I want to talk about the Korean school lunch experience versus American ones and also show you some of the meals I have had so far.

So, when it comes to Korean lunch the kids first go wash their hands. They then walk together with their homeroom class to the cafeteria. Once they get to the first station, they grab a spoon, a set of chopsticks, and a tray. (Everything is stainless steel/metal)


From there, they walk up to the window where lady one serves the rice, lady 2 serves the main dish, lady 3 serves the side dishes/desserts, and lady 4 serves the soup of the day. As I mentioned in an earlier post everyone eats the same meal so the students do not choose what they want. Everything being served that day goes onto their tray. (I’m assuming if a kid has allergies the lunch ladies know and handle it accordingly.)

Each lunch consists of: rice, a main dish usually with protein, kimchi (or some variation), soup, and another side or dessert depending on the day.




I typically eat with the other teachers that speak better English.

Students (and teachers) are allowed to second helpings of any of the dishes by simply going back up to the window. Once a student is finished, they must show their tray to their homeroom teacher to ensure they are eating properly. I have seen teachers tell students to take a few more bites of food before being excused. (So yes eating properly is important here)

Students take their empty (or almost empty trays) to the food disposal area. The first bin you place your spoon then the second your chopsticks. Next, there is a food waste bin. Before you walk up, you scoop all remaining food into your soup bowl then dump it all out in the bin. You then place your soup bowl and tray into the last bin.

So, the thing I LOVE here is that no drinks are served during lunch. (not even water) This way students are actually filling up on food and not drink. After they clear their trays, they can get a small cup of barley tea (which is popular here and very refreshing.) The tea is served at room temp or sometimes warm and without any sweetener. (It’s actually not bad.)


As you can see, Korean school lunch is different from American school lunch. Kids in America have choices, can drink during lunch, and can opt not to eat. Furthermore, I haven’t seen any of the students here actually bring lunch. Everyone eats the prepared lunch.

Thanks for reading and Happy Traveling. ✈️

3 thoughts on “Korean School Lunch vs. American Lunch

  1. Love it!!! I dont think you understand how culturally cool you are right now!!! We live in a box in US sometimes so its so good to see and learn others way of life… cant wait for the next one!!


  2. Hello,

    You do not know me personally, however, I followed you on IG regarding fitness. One of my coworkers referred me. I now follow your blog. I realize you probably are receiving a lot of correspondence. I just want to say I am enjoying reading about your experiences while teaching abroad. I am a Kdrama fanatic😀. Which is why I am very excited for the opportunity to see South Korea from your experiences.

    Thank you, and I pray that you continue to enjoy! What you’re doing is wonderful. Tamara


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