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Seoul sees further jump in cost of dining out

May 17, 2024 - 13:56 By Yoon Min-sik

The price of five out of eight major dishes at local eateries in Seoul increased again in April, as the cost of eating out continues to rise in the nation's capital.

The Korea Consumer Agency, an affiliate of the Korea Fair Trade Commission, compiles the monthly average prices for eight major dining options in South Korea, in a bid to provide the public with an understanding of the changing costs of dining out. Of the eight, the prices of gimbap, jajangmyeon, kalguksu, naengmyeon and kimchi-jjigae all went up in April compared to the previous month.

The price for two of the other three dining options -- samgyeopsal and bibimbap -- remained stationary. A bowl of samgyetaeng actually became marginally cheaper, from an average of 16,923 won ($12.5) to 16,885 won.

Gimbap's continued price hike stood out particularly in the recent figure, as a roll of gimbap was once considered one of the most inexpensive meals here. The report shows the average price for a roll of gimbap rose to 3,362 won from 3,323 won in March. While gimbap is still not as costly as other meal options here, its average price is a far cry from the days of "1,000-won gimbaps" that used to be sold across the country.

The April price for a roll of gimbap marked a 15.6 percent increase compared to the same month two years ago, and the figure has steadily been rising since first surpassing the 3,000 won mark in August 2022.

The price of gimbap is likely to keep rising, considering the wholesale price of dried seaweed or gim -- the main ingredient of the dish -- has been on an upward trend, reaching its highest-ever level in April. Its price marked an 80.1 percent increase compared to the same month in 2023.

According to the KCA, the other major ingredients for gimbap also increased this year compared to 2023, ranging from increases of 0.5 percent to 18.1 percent.

The consumer price of gim in April rose by 10 percent compared to March, which was 3.4 times steeper than the average price hike for all consumer products in South Korea during the same period.

The KCA report went on to show price hikes in other dishes as well, such as a bowl of naengmyeon costing an average of 11,692 won in April of this year. The noodle dish in March had already marked the steepest price hike compared to one year ago.

Some popular naengmyeon eateries, such as Eulji Myeonok, is charging as much as 15,000 won for a bowl.

The price of jajangmyeon in Seoul went up from 7,069 won in March to 7,146 won in April, while kalguksu rose from 9,115 won to 9,154 won, and a serving of kimchi-jjigae went from 8,038 won to 8,115 won.