Korean Convenience Store Lessons


Recently, there have been some questions as to why I suddenly posted a product vocabulary list written in Hangul and English. I want to share the reason why I created this list and my future plans.

I first came across GRRRL Traveler blog post titled “Just Show Me The Pictures!  Dealing With Language Barriers In Korea.”  It resonated with my current situation of living abroad in South Korea.  I was experiencing the very real situation of wanting to purchase products, yet I couldn’t read the package list of ingredients and how to microwave (cook) the product.  I know many expats frequently use the term trial and error.

But what if you couldn’t just wing it, without facing real consequences?  I’ve mentioned in other blog posts about my allergy to shellfish. Keeping that in mind I couldn’t just buy products without facing possible health consequences.

If you’ve ever lived in another country than you’ll understand at some point you create your own list. Whether it’s caring around a pocket dictionary or grocery list with your frequent bought items. At some point during your travels, you will create a type of cheat sheet to make things easier for you as you travel.

I created a list to share product name(s), and the comparable translation for expats, or tourists to find information on products as convenient as possible.  My goal for this list is to fulfill the need for tourist who is not able to read food packages written in Hangul and can’t pronounce the words thereby limiting their access to other translation sources.

This is the digital cheat sheet that eventually I will share with everyone. All items include an option written in English and Hangul for easy reference on popular breakfast, lunch, drinks, snacks, and miscellaneous items.

The journey of creating these lists has had its ups and down.  I first set out to create a mobile application. Because of the world we live in, having information on your mobile device, is the most convenient. I remember as I planned my trip to Korea one of the first tasks I tackled was finding out about necessary mobile applications.

I have experienced a difficult journey as a blogger, and entrepreneur. After trying to find investors for a mobile application, I tried to find a book publisher while I discussed the idea with an International convenience store chain. So far, all roads lead nowwhere.

I’ve learned what it means to form relationships with Korean companies in asking for product information. Preparing a solid business plan, elevator pitch, and having a business mentor.

I believe the journey so far has been worth it for future travelers who travel to South Korea.  If I can elevate one person from experiencing walking into a store and feeling completely overwhelmed with the experience of being in a foreign country and not speaking the language.  Then I’ve achieved my mission of assisting expats, and tourists in purchasing convenience store food products as convenient as possible.

I hope that you find the product name(s) and the accompanying translations easy to read and navigate. In the future, maybe there won’t be a need for this list or others like it. Until then I hope to continue to improve this list, and I look forward to the next phase of the journey.

Convenience Store Tips

  • Become familiar with the steps of instant ramen cooking machines. The machines and instructions may vary from store to store. * Check out this instant ramen noodle cooker from Lazo on their Youtube channel and GoBizKorea.
  • Look for the 1+1, and 2+1 daily deals on dairy, drinks, and snack items.
  • Don’t forget to pickup a pair of chopsticks, or utensils at the cash register.

Disclaimer: Korean Convenience stores located in South Korea are run separately.  Each convenience store has a selection of product(s) that may vary from location to location.  There is no guarantee that this list will reflect item(s) and or product(s) available for purchase during your visit.

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