Policy Analysis on Implementing Food Agriculture Education and Promoting Domestic Agricultural Products Consumption in South Korea

Policy Analysis on Implementing Food Agriculture Education and Promoting Domestic Agricultural Products Consumption in South Korea

Published: 2018.10.22
Accepted: 2018.10.22
Distinguished Professor
Department of Forestry, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan


With the improvement of people's living standards and the increasing awareness of healthcare, there is a greater demand for food safety. In the recent 10 years, South Korea's obesity population has increased by 1.6 times, and obese children have increased by two fold. In 2006, the Association of Korean Nutritionists proposed a plan to improve the dietary environment that risks the students’ health. The South Korean government introduced the Comprehensive Health Promotion Plan in 2010, but its effectiveness was not good as expected. In order to resolve the obesity and associated health problems, South Korea has begun to promote banning on sugar in Seoul since 2014, in accordance with the Special Children's Food Security Law. Sale of sodas at the internal and surrounding retailers of elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools were prohibited accordingly. It has also been announced that the vending machines in public places will be banned from selling sodas since November 2015, and that all vending machines at the MRT stations should be annotated by "sodas are the causes of nutritional unbalance, obesity, osteoporosis, dental caries, fatty liver, and other diseases," so as to improve the Koreans’ understanding of sodas. The vending machines in Seoul city have also been annotated by “replace beverages with water when thirsty, drink beverages without sugar as much as possible, never drink sodas, and use as little sugar as possible when cooking,” as requested by the National Practice Program. The South Korean government also plans to leverage the Food Safety Information Network and online resources to publicize the side effects of excessively sodas, hoping to enhance the awareness of healthy eating through different kinds of experience activities.

South Korea began the implementation of the School Food Service Enforcement Regulations on February 29, 2008, in order to clearly define the school food services. Under Article 4 of the Act, school units should discuss the planning of meals before the start of each school year. Additionally, the school lunch should include the following information: operation mode, management plan, nutrition, hygiene, food type, budget, dietary information, and so on.

Article 8 of the Act also stipulates that a nutrition teacher should give full information to the Principal and perform the following duties: a) Check the ingredients of the diet; b) Perform inspection in health, safety, and management; c) Conduct dietary guidance, explain dietary information, and provide nutrition counseling. According to South Korea's The Third Child Food Safety Management Comprehensive Plan, South Korea has banned coffee vending machines in the elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools, and set up child food security areas next to schools since 2017.

The South Korean government will execute a policy that sodas should be labeled by a sign saying "high calorie, low nutrition” for three years, starting from 2018. The soda advertisements on TV should also be marked with a statement “high-calorie, low nutrition food may cause obesity and nutritional imbalance.” This message will be broadcasted starting from 2018, 2019, and 2020 for sodas, candies, and children’s favorite food, respectively. In addition, enterprises that produce food, such as snack and candy, are required to receive a comprehensive safety management certification standard by 2020. In 2016, the South Korean government formulated a Child Food Safety Guideline, committed to promote food safety education to the elementary school. The junior high school and high school students and their parents are also listed as the target of popularization. In South Korea, junior high schools and high schools in 12 (out of 17) cities have executed the "free food in friendly campus” policy, in which 99% of the foods are domestically-made ingredients. The use of domestic food has been the prevailing situation in South Korea.

After the long-term promotion of food and agriculture education, it is found that students understand the agricultural production more and appreciate the farmers and the ingredients gradually. In South Korea, food education accounts for a large proportion of school education. In addition to emphasizing the practice in daily life, it is believed that the diet can reflect the link between people and nature. Parents learning camps are also held to encourage parents to participate in the production events, such as cooking food with local farmers, in order to understand the production methods and the importance of agriculture.

In many ways that aim to improve children's health, the TV program is the best way to educate students. The animation “Cooking Magician” which is jointly produced by KBS TV, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Agricultural Information and Cultural Center of the Korea Rural Economic Research Institute, provides students with the right dietary knowledge. In addition, many companies have proposed employee weight reduction programs and established foundations to improve the diet of employees. For example, Samsung and many banks have promoted “weight loss and maintain normal diet habits” to maintain their own competition.


The promotion programs related to food and agriculture education in South Korea are mainly composed of the following three departments: one is the government department: the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The others are the public sectors, such as the Korea Health and Social Research Institute (the Ministry of Health and Welfare). There are also some private sectors, such as NPO and other private health promotion groups. On September 27, 2006, the South Korean government enacted the "National Health Promotion Law" and referred to Japan's implementation of the local consumption of "the body is not the same (physical and land inseparable)" real estate campaigns. Although there is no such term "food education" in legislation, many educational units have quietly started food education by promoting traditional diets, and Korean parents will also be involved in "food education" for children through the dishes on the table. Later, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Animal Husbandry and Food hopes to improve the dietary habits of the people, improve the quality of life of the people, inherit and carry forward the culture of traditional food and life, and promote the agriculture, fishery and food industry. Therefore, the "Diet Education Act" has been implemented since November 14, 2013. The scope of implementation of this law is quite extensive, covering families, schools and communities. The division of labor is also very detailed. There are four main parts, namely:

  1. The National Dietary Life Education Committee: It mainly integrates the opinions of all parties and to formulate the “Food and Drink Life Education Policy”, which will be moderated and reviewed by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Animal Production and Food.
  2. Food and Life Education Working Committee: The members of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock, Food and Food (President) and the Directors (Members) of the relevant ministries are mainly to assist the " National Dietary Life Education Committee" and strengthen the cooperation efficiency of various ministries and agencies
  3. Dietary Life Education Evaluation Committee: It consists of experts and the main body of the public and private sectors. It mainly reviews the results of the promotion and proposes amendments.
  4. Local Government Food and Life Education Committee, Food and Life Education Support Center, and Consumer and Food Life Promotion Association: Its main goal is to make timely suggestions to make the policy effect more significant.

In addition, this law includes the project "Basic Plan for Eating and Living Education". This project is mainly for the food and agriculture education in South Korea. The way to promote policy can be divided into six major items, namely:

a.    Promotion of family’s dietary education

  • Form the basic dietary habits: strengthen lactation diet education through the nationwide diet campaign, making diet guidebooks and distributing to each family to establish the basic diet habits.
  • Expand the food education: link the lifestyle habits of the family to the diet of the school, making it a more consistent diet education.
  • Learn a good diet knowledge: provide good and healthy dietary knowledge for each family by promoting preventive knowledge.

b.    Promotion of school’s dietary education A

  • Promote health and development of dietary education: teach students about food production, food distribution and cooking courses, and expands the food education programs in schools. There are 113 schools involved in 2014, and it is expected to expand to 200 schools in 2019.
  • Strengthen school diet guidance: teach children how to choose snacks through “health stores”.
  • Develop kindergarten diet education program: develop diet-related course materials for children.

c.    Promotion of school’s dietary education B

  • Promote the practice of dietary habits in South Korea: promote local diet and dietary characteristics through experience, after-school classes, and food education demonstration schools.
  • Practice the correct dietary habits for generations: promote the correct dietary habits for generations of people by working with educational institutions, local hospitals and departments.
  • Develop geographical expertise: provide relevant education, training, and incentives to attract more people to work on dietary education.
  • Promote regional food chains and local education.

d.    Farming and fishery links and environmental friendliness

  • Strengthen the links between urban and rural areas: host urban and rural exchange events or experience activities, and expand the exchange program between urban and rural schools.
  • Activate the children’s and adolescent’s agro-fisheries experience: Conduct agro-fishery experience activities regularly for children and adolescents to increase awareness of agricultural fisheries.
  • Link to the local food movement: encourage and expand the use rate of local food materials for school meals, in order to promote the local economy and enhance the self-sufficiency food.
  • Promote environment-friendly diet education: promote and establish a green diet and food waste reduction measures, and then promote the local food to reduce the food carbon footprint.

e.    Traditional culture inheritance

  • Promote traditional cultural experiences: expand traditional cultural heritage activities. It is expected that the University of Korea will host 111 traditional food-related cultural experience events in 2019, through festivals (e.g., agro-food festivals) to provide consumer experience activities.
  • Promote the realization of traditional local cuisine: use local culinary traditions, in conjunction with school meals, to promote cooking practices and local dietary characteristics, and to strengthen the development of traditional dishes, even with other specialties.
  • Add values on traditional food and recipes: develop a variety of traditional food (such as kimchi, soy sauce, etc.), make traditional food promotional videos, and broadcast over television, internet, and other channels.

f.    Information promotion

  • Promote the dietary education R&D: establish special diet plan R&D units and edit food related textbooks and so on.
  • Build an information platform and expand communication: Communicate news, conduct food-related competitions, and educate people through diverse communication methods.
  • Exchange international information: understand the food education and exchange of countries through various foreign units, as a reference for policy amendments.
  • Strengthen public promotion: strengthen the promotion of public sector related policies by holding workshops with food-related institutions.

In addition, according to the "School Food Service Enforcement Regulations" implemented by the South Korean government in 2008, Article 5 has detailed regulations on the composition of the School Food Service Committee:

  • It contains one chairman, but the number of members does not exceed 15.
  • The Chairman of the School Meal Committee (hereinafter referred to as the “Chairman”) is the Deputy Director of the Education Department of the metropolitan city, the provincial capital city, and the special prefecture.
  • The School Lunch Committee is appointed by the Director of the Municipal/Provincial Education Office.

Article 6 also provides detailed regulations on the operation of the School Food Service Committee:

  • The Chairman shall be the representative of the School Meal Committee and shall supervise the operation of the School Food Committee.
  • The Chairman should be responsible for chairing the meetings of the School Food Service Committee.
  • Meetings of the School Food Service Committee should be attended by a majority of the members.
  • The Secretariat shall deal with the relevant affairs of the School Food Service Committee.
  • The School Food Service Committee shall be appointed for a term of two years, but may be renewed once.
  • Other matters related to the operation of the School Meal Committee shall be determined by the Chairman after the decision of the Academic Committee.

In addition, Article 7 also stipulates the standards and types of school’s facilities and equipment:

  • Kitchen should be located in places that do not hinder students to learn. It should be located in places that is convenient to access and should have efficient and safe cooking equipment.
  • Food storage room should be located in places that are well-ventilated and suitable for food storage. It should also be equipped with pesticides and rodent supplies.
  • Food management room should be located in the vicinity of the kitchen, and it should have computers and other office equipment.
  • Convenient facilities should be placed next to the kitchen and should have closet and shower room according to the number of chefs.


In recent years, South Korea has successively formulated relevant policies, including the Korea Food Education Law (1981), related to the school lunch, and the Special Law on Safety Management, related to children's dietary habits (2008), in order to promote food and agriculture education. In 2009, the Food Education Support Act and the National Health Promotion Law, the National Nutrition Management Law (2010), and the Food Safety Basic Law (2012). The South Korean government also established “National Dietary Life Education Committee,” promoted the food garden experience, and provided support for the vulnerable group. Professor Jin Xianshu believes that the biggest challenge for South Korea to promote local food is that the people have lost the self-esteem of food culture. In order to retrieve the cultural core of Korean traditional food, Korean scholars believe that people can re-recognize the true taste of food by "respecting nature and knowing others." Therefore, as a concept, South Korea adopted the Food Education Support Act in November 2009. South Korea promoted food education in five major population categories: young children, children, adults, seniors and others". Early childhood education is developed to develop children's "five senses" so that children can express their feelings after tasting each dish, and use food to learn the meaning of the taste and vision. Suitable teaching materials and workshops are designed for “others” in the population category, including pregnant women, new residents, people with ill-balanced feeding, etc. The purpose of its implementation is to "improve national awareness of the necessary issues for food and life education: improving national food and life, inheriting and developing traditional food and drink culture, promoting the development of agriculture, fisheries and food industry, and improving the quality of life of the people" (School Meal Act, 2009). The Food Education Support Act of Korea is divided into five chapters. The first chapter—General Principles, Chapter 2—Direction of Dietary Life Education, Chapter 3—Programs of Dietary Life Education, Chapter 4—Formation of Dietary Life Education Foundation, Chapter 5 - Supplementary Provisions and Final Bylaws.

With the promotion of food and agriculture education, South Korea has gradually found that there are many social levels hidden in other population categories. For example, poor people are more likely to lack nutrition than rich people, so the South Korean government has also provided the “home delivery of the fruit and vegetable” service to help the Koreans achieve a healthy and balanced diet.


In recent years, Taiwan has begun to promote farm experience activities to practice the real goal of food and agriculture education. In South Korea, a fairly mature short-term rental farm was developed more than a decade ago, especially in the capital circle of South Korea, near Seoul and the Gyeonggi Province. People call it "the weekend experience farm", hoping that they can cultivate an acre of land and really step into the soil and plant food even if they are not farmers. In addition to creating business opportunities for modern farmers and providing a short-term farming experience for people in cities, the further significance is that agriculture can be developed even in the city. After a period of implementation of the farming experience, the area of the experience farms have become larger. The owners of the experience farm also said that more Koreans are engaged in farming experience related activities, and many of the participants experience with their families. In particular, children especially like the farming experience activities. The Koreans can realize the production process from the cultivation of cabbage to kimchi through this kind of event. This makes people better cherish food and establish a correct concept of food education. In order to promote the concept of hands-on farming, the South Korean government has acquired land and provided technical guidance related to farming, so that the public servants can cultivate in their leisure time. On the other hand, there are many TV programs that report covering topics on food and agriculture, giving the Koreans a better sense of farming on the land.

In the promotion of Korean traditional food culture and cuisine, the South Korean government launched the "HAN-Style" campaign in 2007 in order to carry out cultural exchanges with foreigners. It is a policy to promote the branding of Korean traditional culture, including six cultural symbols: Hanguel (Korean alphabet), Hansik (Korean food), Hanbok (Korean traditional costume), Hanok (Korean traditional house), Hanji (Korean traditional paper) and Hanguk-Eumak (Korean music). In addition, the Korean Food Program, which was proposed by 10 ministries, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, has selected 10 Korean dishes that are popular among foreigners, such as kimchi, seafood pancakes, and bibimbap, and simplify the cooking methods in the western style. The Korean food Program has also adopted the strategy of localization, standardization, and simplified production to combine Korean food with different regional characteristics and to promote to the world. It will commercialize Korean traditional cuisine, such as local cuisine, court cuisine, medicinal dishes, vegetarian dishes, and home cooking and begin to cultivate various talents in order to let Korean culture enter into the world. On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry implements the “Korean Food Globalization Promotion Plan” to support agriculture through the development of high value-added Korean food culture commodities. The project lasts for 4 years, with an average annual investment of 19.5 billion won, between 2008 and 2011. From the above, the South Korean government did not implement food education in a way to teach people how to choose food and to practice healthy diet in the early stage. Nevertheless, its educational content already includes the concept of food education for a while, such as improving the diet, inheriting the production methods of traditional foods, and so on.

Regarding​​ manpower training for food and agriculture education, the Ministry of Education of South Korea launched a comprehensive approach for school meal management in 2007, which aims to improve children's satisfaction and to develop a safer and higher quality school meal nutrition education system. The government treated school meal education as an important part of food education, in the hope of correcting the imbalance of school children's diet and developing the correct dietary habits of children. Therefore, raising the level of nutritional lunches in schools is a priority. Strengthening the training of school nutritionists is also one of the important issues.

Date submitted: Sept 6, 2018

Reviewed, edited and uploaded: Oct. 22, 2018