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How To Read Korean Food Labels

Tips For Identifying Nutritional Information 

Food labels are already difficult to understand and add in another language and it can become an almost impossible task.  Whether you’re looking for products free-from one of the major top allergens or have a dietary restriction, these tips will help you with label transparency. Bookmark this page for tips to use the next time you order groceries online or browse the food aisles.  

After you’re done reading this post check out the Korean Convenience product page, it features 300+ Korean products: brand name, food allergies, ingredients, weight, calories, and cross-contamination statements when available. 

Looking for information about Korean snacks? Download the Korean Convenience app!

App Store or Google Play Store 

What’s On The Front

On the front of most prepackaged products the letter fonts are written in various colors, shapes, and sizes.  Important tips to remember are the word that are written the largest is usually the name of the product.  What is written directly underneath is usually the flavor of the product i.e. spicy, peanut, or sweet or a popular catchphrase.

Product Certifications

According to the Food and Drug Administration the “HACCP is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards based on seven principles.”

There are several product certifications Korean products can display. Popular certifications include: No-MSG, Vegan, Organic, Non-GMO, Kosher, and Halal.

Weight and Calories

The food weight is the actual size of the Korean snack or grocery product. Because food can come in different shapes, and sizes knowing the amount of carbs by weight can be useful information for anyone managing a food allergy, intolerance or medical condition.

Calorie information can also be another useful tool for people who are counting calories, or need this information to better manage their medical conditions. HealthLine has written an extensive article on Kcal vs Calories Differences. To read the full article check it out here.

Korean Manufacturers

There are several popular manufacturers from South Korea.  Some of the organizations have business in South Korea and abroad such as in the United States.  

Popular brand names you will see on packages include:   

*Please be aware there are additional companies that are not mentioned in the list above.  

Expiration & Manufactured Dates

One of the key differences for consumers may be how the day, month, and year are written on the packages.  A lot of countries in Asia follow the hierarchical system and use the DD-MM-YYYY format. 

What’s On The Back

You want to make healthier choices, but you can’t understand the ingredient label.  Here are some tips to help you translate the back of the food package.

Nutrition Facts Label English & Hangul Translation

Korean Food Label
Image: Please don’t copy without permission.

Additional Terms

Listed below are additional terms that you might need help translating.

  • Product Name – 제품명  
  • Item Report Number – 품목보고번호 
  • Packaging Material – 포장재질 
  • Shelf Life – 유통기한 
  • Raw Material Name/Ingredients 원재료명 

Country Of Origin  

Words that are enclosed within parentheses are usually countries where the ingredients contained within the product originates.  Popular countries include:

  • United States – 미국산
  • Australia – 호주산
  • Austria – 오스트리아
  • Belgium – 벨기에
  • Brazil – 브라질
  • Canada – 캐나다
  • Chile – 칠레
  • China – 중국
  • Denmark – 덴마크
  • Dutch – 네덜란드산
  • France – 프랑스
  • Germany – 독일
  • Greece – 그리스
  • Hong Kong – 홍콩
  • India – 인도
  • Indonesia – 인도네시아
  • Italy – 이탈리아
  • Japan – 일본
  • Malaysia – 말레이시아산
  • Philippines – 필리핀 제도
  • South Korea – 대한민국
  • Spain – 스페인
  • Thailand – 태국산
  • Vietnam – 베트남
  • United Kingdom – 칠레

Looking for information about Korean snacks? Get the Korean Convenience app on the App Store or Google Play Store 

Food Allergens

On most packages, there is an allergy label.  They are the last words written within the ingredients sections and are usually highlighted by a different background color.  Things to remember:

Popular colors include white, yellow, and black.  

Ingredients are separated by commas. Top allergens include: 

top nine food allergen symbols in English and Hangul

Top 9 Major Allergens in the United States

  • Dairy – 우유 
  • Egg – 달걀
  • Fish – 생선 
  • Peanuts – 땅콩
  • Sesame – 깨
  • Shellfish – 조개
  • Soybean: 콩
  • Tree Nuts – 견과류
  • Wheat – 밀가루

Food Allergens Listed Specific to South Korea

  • Almond – 아몬드
  • Buckwheat – 메밀
  • Celery – 셀러리
  • Corn – 옥수수
  • Mustard – 머스타드
  • Peach – 복숭아
  • Pine Nuts – 잣
  • Plum – 자두
  • Tomato – 토마토

Meat and Seafood – Terms on South Korean Allergen Labels

  • Abalone – 전복
  • Beef – 소고기
  • Chicken – 치킨 / 닭고기
  • Crab – 게
  • Mackerel – 고등어
  • Mussels – 홍합
  • Oysters – 굴
  • Pork – 돼지 고기
  • Shrimp – 쉬림프

Manufacture Statements

제품과 같은 시설에서 제조하고 있습니다. = Manufactured in the same facility as the product.

Ministry Of Food & Drug Safety

To contact the Ministry Of Food & Drug Safety call +82-43-719-1564 (in English) and speak to someone regarding further Korean snack and grocery prepackaged product concerns.

Are you looking for more information read the Food Labeling System read the article from the Ministry Of Food & Drug Safety website

Final Thoughts

No matter which country you live in, it’s important to do research what you read on the back of nutrition labels especially when you have a food allergy or dietary condition.  While it might be time-consuming to read health claims, ingredients, or nutritional information that can be displayed on packages, it’s important to make the best decision possible.

I would love to hear your comments down below.  Do you feel this post is helpful to read Korean food labels?  Also, what food packaging information would you add to assist people who love Korean food?

Related Reading:

Korean Manufacturers Food Allergen Statements

Korean Food Recalls

Allergy Friendly Korean Alcohol Guide

Where To Buy Korean Food

Get Snacks From South Korea

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Advice From A Non-Technical Founder

Document, Timeline & Communication Method

As an African American entrepreneur I have my fair share of challenges if I want to build a mobile application. For starters I can’t code, I don’t have a technical co-founder, and I don’t have personal connections with any software developers.  Yet, I still wanted to develop my mobile application to assist people with food allergies and dietary restrictions.

I started off with a simple strategy and a little bit of advice.  

“You don’t try to build a wall, you don’t set out to build a wall, you don’t start there, you say “I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid” and you do that every single day and soon you have a wall.”  ~ Will Smith 

Instead of focusing on how to build a wall I started with a task: Mobile App Flow.

Document Project 

I needed to perfectly describe my mobile application concept.  I decided to create a mockup of the app design flow.  In the past I’ve enrolled in an online course that taught Figma.  *Figma is a free online design tool that allows users to see prototypes of Android and iOS apps in real time.  However, I quickly realized that I would need a lot more instruction and hands-on training.  I decided to use a platform that I already used many times.


I researched the dimensions of a mobile phone application and I used the custom dimension feature on Canva.  Canva allows users to create designs using a drag and drop feature.  To create the mobile app screenshot designs I didn’t focus on colors, size or graphics.  Instead I created a generic layout of each screen.


I needed to pick a color palette for the developers to use as the primary and secondary app color.  Coolors allows users to generate various color combinations. You can use a photo to create a color palette or browse popular color combos that other artist have created. I used Coolors because it’s simple to use and you can download a pdf version of your palette.  *Canva also allows you to create a color palette for projects.


I created a style guide in Canva as well that provided the developers with information about the mobile app.  The most important information I provided was the mobile app purpose(mission statement), color scheme, font/image guidelines. *I used Google developer best practices for the font and image recommendations*  In total the style guide was fourteen pages with the last page consisting of my contact and social media information.

I was finally ready to find a software developer and begin the next task: Mobile App Development.


I researched similar projects on UpWork, I read their job descriptions and what they required (proposals) from developers.  Using the advice I mentioned before I decided to create a job posting for the screenshots.  Plus, I figured if I liked the company/individual that I chose then we could move forward with the project, but if I didn’t then at least I had other options. Five months ago I posted the job description below:

I am currently looking for an app developer/IT who can create a flow chart diagram and wireframe mockup for my mobile application using Figma.  The developer will source/create: stock images, illustrations, and or icons for the project and once complete will provide research/links from sourced materials. 

The developer will be able to use a style guideline and a rough sketch to determine the capabilities of the app and will be able to take this information to create a Flow Chart diagram, detailing data sequence simulating how the user would move within the app. The project will ultimately be used to develop/publish a mobile application.

You will be asked to answer the following questions when submitting a proposal:

Describe your recent experience with similar projects

Include a link to your profile and/or website    


The developer provided a contract that included the scope of the project, price, and timeline.  The most important items that I believe should be included:  

  • Employer and or individual owns all code + designs 
  • Developer will provide Code Library upon completion
  • The developer will provide their tax I.D., address, Contact info(Phone/Email) 
  • Timeline: Approx. dates for frontend, backend & testing
  • Project Requirements: Google developer account, cloud computing, email delivery service, dedicated email, etc.  
  • Payment Method – (i.e. Bank Transfer, Check, PayPal, etc. & Due Dates)
  • Signature (Print, Sign & Date)

*Before informing the developer in detail about your mobile app concept don’t forget to create and sign a non-disclosure agreement.


I selected a company on Upwork and we moved forward with the project. Using the screenshot designs I created using Canva the wireframes(screenshots) were completed.  I decided to continue working with the same company and we began developing the mobile application. 

The first week of October was set as the first deadline.  We had weekly check-ins to discuss what was needed to move the project forward.  After finalizing a logo design, the developers began developing the back/frontend of the app.  This was the hardest part of the process so far.  I had to trust someone else with my vision and learn to manage my expectations.    

While the developers worked on coding and creating the images/graphics I worked with the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program.  My small business counselor has been there on both the good and bad days.  On the days when I trusted the process and on the days when I thought I was in over my head and I wanted to throw in the towel.

Our initial timeline has been pushed back nearly two months.  I’ve learned a lot through the process, whether it was trying to connect with Korean food manufacturers, or speaking with the Ministry Of Food and Drug Safety.  But I always remember “brick by brick” and focus on tasks that I can complete.  Some of those tasks included: virtually attending webinars/conferences, volunteering, and connecting with other black entrepreneurs.

Communication Method


I’ve become proficient at scheduling and attending virtual zoom sessions.  I find that it’s easier than going back and forth via email when you’re trying to communicate mobile app issues.  Zoom has been the fly on the wall as we submitted the mobile app for testing on both Android and iOS.


Create a new email specifically for the mobile app project.  If your resources permit it’s better to buy a business email such as Google Workspace and use it for all communications concerning the app.  


Before the developer begins work on your mobile app it’s important to clearly understand the software and platforms the developer will use to build the app.  This step can be a little confusing at times creating, and assigning administrator roles.  

However, it’s important to gauge the full price of developing the mobile app.  Ask for the price of each software requirement and initially try to use as many free versions as possible.  *Create each account and have the developer use the accounts you created*  This is important because eventually you might decide to scale your business.  Possible choices include hiring a dedicated software engineer or partnering with a technical co-founder.  Whichever path you choose for the next phase of your product growth they will need full access.      

We’re in the final stages of developing and publishing the mobile app.  I can’t wait to share with everyone what I’ve been working on.  These are just some of the initial obstacles I faced in the development process.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Any advice for non-technical founders?

If so, please share your comments below, and what valuable lessons you learned as a non-technical founder who built a mobile application or developed a product.  I plan to continue sharing my experience with additional posts after I’ve published the Korean Convenience app.

Additionally, I would love to hear what you found in the post the most helpful and why?

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Let’s Care Podcast Interview

One-on-One Talking with Matt Scott

A notice was sent out to the Seed Spot Entrepreneurs to discuss their entrepreneurial experience this year.  It was a call for individuals who often don’t feel heard or seen in the startup space.  I responded to the email because less than a week prior I had completely failed an investor workshop.  I had five minutes to pitch my business and let’s just say that it was the most painful five minutes I have felt in a long time and that’s in the year 2020. 

Listen to the podcast episode Reimagining Impact here.

I know I need to practice telling my story more so that I can get comfortable speaking in public.  Public speaking has always been my achilles heel ever since I took my first class in college.  Over time I have not gotten any better.  However, the need for more people to hear about food allergies issues and possible solutions outweighs my fear of public speaking. 

Business Chosen

A short while later to my surprise, I received an email from Matt Scott.  He’s the founder and host of the Lets Care Podcast.  A little bit about Matt: “Matt Scott, a social impact project manager and storyteller currently working as a global community manager and storyteller for NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge at Secondmuse, with NASA, Nike, USAID, the Obama White House, and more.” ~ Lets Care Website

Matt asked for information about my startup timeline and social media.  After that, I picked a date/time for the interview and it was all set.  I picked the last date and time slot available for an interview.  I wanted to give myself as much time to get mentally prepared or let’s be real to cancel as possible.

I did a little bit of social stalking by following Matt on the most popular social media sites.  Engaged in topics that I agreed with and was glad that he too found them of interest. I watched the inspirational speeches of other black entrepreneurs and their belief that we belong in the room and the room is better off with a diversity of people.     

24-Hours Notice

The days ticked by and with school, volunteering for a non-profit, and starting a new business I didn’t get a chance to focus on my fear.  Until the day prior when I received that reminder email.  This was my last chance to bail with at least 24 hours’ notice.  It was now or never.  I sucked it up and wrote my startup accomplishments on a piece of paper.  I felt better about how far I had come, a first-time entrepreneur, no funding, participating in a year-long business accelerator and I wanted to share my story.  If one person was able to get hope and inspiration then that was okay.    


I set up the computer, adjusted my light source to the best of my ability ( I wished I paid more attention to production class), and waited for the meeting to begin.  The initial introduction was good and I was feeling anxious, but talking with Matt I was glad that he has completed over one-hundred interviews. 

Listen to our conversation here and judge for yourself. 

Overall, I was glad that my first podcast experience was with Let’s Care and Seed Spot.  I want to thank Matt for being such a gracious and patient host.  I look forward to reading about his future entrepreneurial endeavors.       

Information about Let’s Care Podcast:  “Let’s Care, initially founded as 180º of Impact, is a platform to pass the mic to those that often go unheard in the social change space. We interview unlikely and underrepresented changemakers.”  ~ Lets Care Website

For more information about the Let’s Care podcast and to subscribe to their email list, visit

Interested in joinging the Seed Spot Entrepreneur community check out their website for upcoming events, courses and ways to get invovled.

Little by little I will keep making strides in the right direction towards becoming an articulate speaker. Have you faced any of your fears during the pandemic? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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