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gluten-free In Korea
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My husband has a tentative job offer in Korea. How difficult is it to be gluten free there? Any restaurants/stores anyone can recommend? We would be in the Gunsan/Kunsan AB area. Thank you for your help!

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My husband has a tentative job offer in Korea. How difficult is it to be gluten free there? Any restaurants/stores anyone can recommend? We would be in the Gunsan/Kunsan AB area. Thank you for your help!

I went to Korea about two years ago.  Generally I was able to eat well and gluten free.  But I speak Korean, I was born in Korea, and  I have some knowledge of Korean cuisine.  You appear Western from the picture on your post.  My recommendations are:

 

*  Learn Korean.

*  Go to Korean grocery stores and Korean restaurants while you are in the US and familiarize yourself with Korean cuisine; figure out what you can eat while you are able to converse with the wait staff and the chef in English.

 

As a rough rule I think it would be difficult to eat gluten free in Korea if you do not speak the language.  And the food labeling rules are not the same in Korea so I do not totally trust the ingredients I see on the food labels.   The big things to avoid are:

 

*  Avoid soy sauce (usually it is made with wheat)

*  Avoid go choo jang (a spicy hot paste usually made with wheat)

*  Avoid miso paste unless you know it is wheat free

 

Some vegetables marinated in go choo jang may look like kim chee, but they are not kim chee and unsafe for celiacs.  I was able to eat kim chee of all types.  (Kim chee is a fermented vegetable dish.)

 

Much of Korean cuisine is rice based and naturally gluten free but you have to know the cuisine and ask a lot of questions.  I posted on this forum a few years ago with more specifics on what I ate while I was in Korea.  Perhaps if you look around you will find that posting.  For example, on the second floor of the Seoul train station, there is a place called "Riceteria" that sells traditional rice cakes.  Most of these are totally wheat free!  They are often filled with sweet bean paste and made with rice flour.

 

An alternative solution - eat only at the expensive western type hotels.  At these hotels, the wait staff all speak English  and have some  familiarity with food sensitivities.  But you will be living in Korea if you accept this job so that is not a solution long term.

 

Best of luck!

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Hi there. Recently diagnosed but lived ten years in Korea when I was young. I still buy plenty of Korean products. Some advice in additiion to the helpful post above: learn to read the Korean alphabet - it is not hard to do, and it will allow to read the ingredients on stuff you buy in supermarkets. Google translate is also helpful for that. Also, be careful with some things that seem safe. Rice based products such as topokki sometimes contain wheat - i found out the hard way. Other things like 'mul' are traditionally a corn tea, but sometimes barley tea is used instead. Also, Koreans do use vinegar in cooking rice. At the moment I have not yet been able to verify whether this type of vinegar is based on malt at all. I suspect not, but am not sure...

Other than that, Korean food is delicious. I have adapted many of the recipes and made them gluten free. E.g. I use tamari soy sauce which has no wheat.

Good luck!

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