Food Guide

Foods Koreans Eat During Chuseok

September 28, 2023

In the heart of South Korea's calendar lies a festival that resonates deeply with the nation's history, culture, and unity. Chuseok, often referred to as Korean Thanksgiving Day, is a vibrant and cherished holiday that blends ancient traditions with modern customs. As South Korea's most significant harvest festival, Chuseok brings families together, fosters a sense of belonging, and honors Korea's rich agricultural heritage.

What is Chuseok? 

Chuseok (추석), also known as Hangawi (한가위), is a major mid-autumn harvest festival and a three-day holiday in South Korea celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar on the full moon. It is one of the most important holidays in South Korea, and is a time for families to gather together to give thanks to their ancestors for the bountiful harvest.

When is Chuseok celebrated?

Chuseok coincides with the autumn equinox, typically falling on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which follows the solar year, the lunar calendar is based on the moon's cycles. As a result, Chuseok's date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar, usually falling in September or October. The use of the lunar calendar for Chuseok ties the holiday to the moon's phases and contributes to its traditional and cultural significance.

What do Koreans do and eat during Chuseok? 

Traditionally, many Koreans travel to their rural hometowns to visit their families. They prepare a variety of special foods together, like songpyeon (송편), a type of half-moon shaped rice cake filled with sweet fillings, japchae (잡채), a stir-fried noodle dish, galbi-jim (갈비찜), braised short ribs, and jeon (전), savory pancakes. Korean fruits like persimmons, apples, and pears also play a prominent role on the Chuseok table. These fruits are often gifted as a symbol of prosperity and a bountiful harvest. Many families also visit their ancestors' graves and pay respects to their ancestors through memorial ceremonies.

Things to keep in mind for travelers

During Chuseok, Korea sees a "mass migration" of sorts, with millions of Koreans traveling to their hometowns to be with family. This leads to crowded highways and bustling train stations as people make their way home. If you plan to travel during Chuseok, be prepared for potentially long lines and delays. Some businesses and services may operate on a reduced schedule or close altogether during Chuseok. This can include restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions. It's a good idea to check in advance to ensure that the places you want to visit will be open.

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Galbi-jjim (갈비찜) is a delicious Korean braised short ribs dish. It's known for its tender, succulent, and flavorful beef ribs that are slow-cooked with a variety of ingredients to create a savory and slightly sweet dish. 

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Izmir (Osan Air Base)

1984 Dongindong Galbi-Jjim (Camp Humphreys)


Bulgogi (불고기) is a classic Korean dish known for its delicious and savory marinated beef. The name "Bulgogi" translates to "fire meat" in Korean, which reflects the dish's traditional method of grilling or cooking over an open flame. It's a popular and iconic Korean barbecue dish enjoyed both in Korea and around the world.

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Doure Korean Restaurant (Camp Humphreys)

Itaewon Old School Dosirak Jipbap Klass (Itaewon)


Japchae (잡채) is a popular Korean dish known for its delightful combination of stir-fried glass noodles and a variety of vegetables, often seasoned with a savory and slightly sweet sauce. This dish is prized for its vibrant colors, pleasing textures, and balanced flavors. It's a favorite both in Korean households and as a side dish or appetizer in Korean restaurants.

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Jipbap Kimseonsaeng (Itaewon)

Dr Yoo Chinese Kitchen (Camp Humphreys)


Jeon (전) is a category of Korean savory pancakes that come in various forms and flavors. They are a popular and versatile dish enjoyed as appetizers, side dishes, or even main courses in Korean cuisine. Jeon is often served on special occasions and during holidays like Chuseok and Lunar New Year.

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Lak Hee Oak (Jongno)

Original Mapo Grandma Bindaetteok (Mapo)

Use code CHUSEOK23 and get 1000won off your order! Valid from 2023-09-27~2023-10-03.

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