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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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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 the 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 ex-pats frequently use the term trial and error.

Living With Food Allergies

But what if you couldn’t just wing it, without facing real consequences?  I’ve mentioned in other blog posts about my food 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 then you’ll understand at some point you create your own list. Whether it’s caring around a pocket dictionary or a grocery list with your frequently 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.

Looking for information about Korean snacks? Get the free Korean Convenience app on:

App Store or Google Play Store 

I created a list to share product name(s), and the comparable translation for ex-pats, or tourists to find information on products as convenient as possible.  My goal for this list is to fulfill the need of tourists who can’t 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.

You’ve gotten this far in the story. Guess What? The app is finally here check out the Korean Convenience app on

App Store or Google Play Store 

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 to a dead end.

I’ve learned what it means to form relationships with Korean companies by asking for product information. Preparing a solid business plan, an 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 achieved my mission of assisting ex-pats and tourists in purchasing convenience store food products as conveniently 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 pick up 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.

Get Korean Convenience latest news updates.

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Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles

Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles

Korean Cultural Center L.A. Experience

I decided I would share a place that I’ve been visiting since I was first introduced to Korean dramas and Korean music.  The place I’m discussing is the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California.

I first started going to the Cultural Center almost three years ago when I decided to take my first Korean Language class.  The Center is dedicated to expanding the knowledge of Korea through various programs such as Movie Night, Exhibitions, Lectures, Korean Language Programs, and K-Pop events.

Korean Language Program

My experience attending the Korean Language program began during the summer of 2015 when I took my first five-week course.  If you’re like most K-pop and Kdrama fans, you will experience the frustration (No English Subtitles) of not being able to understand a variety of TV programs.   Sure you could wait because eventually subtitles will be added, or you realize that it wouldn’t hurt to learn a little of the Korean language.

On the first night of class, I went to the Cultural Center and I was given a receipt since I had already paid online.  I was informed that my introductory class would be held at the 3rd-floor level.  I walked up to the nearby staircase and found to my surprise on the second floor waiting for the area complimentary kimbap, and Korean mandu (egg rolls) being served.  After grabbing a small sampling I decided to go to my classroom.

The classroom was rather large and doubles as a movie theatre for the movie night film showcases.  Every seat in our class was filled, so much so that there was also a classroom assistant who assisted the teacher.  The class is taught similarly to the class I took in South Korea with one caveat the teacher would speak some English so that the class understood the material covered.

It was great taking a class with other individuals who had similar interests to mine and being in surroundings where it’s not awkward to mention your favorite songs are by musical groups like Super Junior, SS501, Big Bang, and Shinee.

I went over to the KCCLA building today just to revisit the building and see the new exhibit for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

KCCLA – History of Korea & Hangeul Exhibit
Traditional Hanbok & Accessories

Right next door to the Korean Cultural Center is the Korea Center.  The Korea Center has various exhibits and provides information if you’re planning to visit South Korea.  They offer a free pamphlet from Imagine Your Korea (Korea Tourism Organization) with information on the major attractions in South Korea.  Additionally, you can pick up a free travel guidebook with information on places to eat, hot springs, trekking, skiing, whitewater rafting and so much more.

Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles
Kpop Listening Station at the KCCLA

Admission is free and open to the public at both centers.  This is definitely a place you want to check out the next time you visit Los Angeles for KCON or The Los Angeles Korean Festival Foundation.

If you would like more information about the KCCLA click on the link provided.  Their next free event will be held on February 28 at 7:00 p.m. with a K-Pop Night theme party.

KCCLA is located at 5505 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036.

Lastly, don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on your social media accounts and leave comments with your own experience of studying another language.

If you want to read more about my ongoing study of the Korean Language or South Korea read related posts on:

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Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles