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30-Day Challenge

30-Day Challenge: Day #25 – Practical Application: Learn how to read Korean nutrition labels


Are you familiar with this thing? (Americans)


It’s recently morphed into this:


Those diagrams show the past (and present) USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) daily recommendations for food portions (and it turns out they’ve been giving recommendations like this for almost 100 years!).

The Korean healthy food pyramid

Korea also has a food pyramid:


Which has also recently been redesigned:


The new diagram seems to emphasize exercise and getting enough water daily (in addition to the other food requirements) as obesity in Korea is growing particularly in the countryside. Obesity in Korea is expected to increase 5% within the next 10 years.

Being able to read food labels is the key to balancing your diet

Now, as interesting and as visual as those Korean food diagrams are, they’re really not going to do you much good if you can’t understand them.

Additionally, it’s important to pay attention to the particular makeup of foods you buy. For example, you’ll want to know how much protein, carbohydrates, or calories a certain food product contains. All of that can be found on the product’s food nutrition label:


Now, recently Korea has done a wonderful job of requiring nutrition labeling on ALL food products – including those in restaurants like VIPS and McDonald’s. The only exceptions are Korean food restaurants – but those are still required to label the country-of-origin for the foods they sell (호주산 = Australian, etc). There are 5 ways you should be able to find labels in non-Korean food restaurants:

Source: Daum Blog
Source: Daum Blog
  1. 영수증 = Receipt (check the bottom of the McDonald’s, etc receipt)
  2. 포스터 및 리플릿 = Poster and Leaflet (check around the counter in a fast food place)
  3. 제품안내판 = Name tag (check around the food name tags in a buffet)
  4. 메뉴판 = Menu board (calorie count should always be listed right on the board)
  5. 홈페이지 = Home page (check out the website for more info)

The Important parts of a Korean food label

So, to get you started down a path toward health (and wealth) in Korea, here are the important parts of a food label that you’ll need to learn:


Be sure to pay particular attention to:

  1. 제공량: Serving size
  2. 열량: Calories (not pictured)
  3. 탄수화물: Carbohydrates
  4. 단백질: Protein
  5. 지방: Fat
  6. 포화지방: Saturated Fat
  7. 나트륨: Sodium
  8. 콜레스테롤: Cholesterol

Seriously, since learning the basic vocabulary for food labels, food shopping in Korea has been much more enjoyable. Now I’m able to compare and contrast the differences between similar products and choose the one that is best for me.


You can either do this Challenge in your home with products you already have, or go to a mart and review products there:

#25: Record a video of yourself comparing and analyzing the nutritional differences between two competing products.

Hashtags today are:

#k2k3025 #healthinspector


Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about Korean food labeling:

  1. Nutrition info guide (Korean)
  2. 5 different variations on nutrition info
  3. How to check nutrition info (Korean)
  4. Government’s food pyramid (Korean)
  5. About a healthy diet and body shape (Korean)
  6. Sample 2400 calorie diet for a 30-year-old 170cm tall, 65kg male (bottom of the page)
  7. Rules for a healthy diet (Korean) with “Foods that Speed up metabolism” in English

And here are a few product labels to practice on:

Special K Korean food label

  1. Special K Cereal quick label (link)
  2. Post Nut Crunch Cereal label
  3. Children’s snacks label
  4. VIPS Menu

If you know how to read food labels, does it help you shop smarter? More healthily?

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