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Fewer people willing to cook food for ancestors

Sept 19,2017
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Fewer Koreans plan to prepare food for their deceased ancestors during the Chuseok ancestral rites and even those who do are less likely to follow tradition, according to a recent survey.

Among the 599 people who responded to the survey from the Korea Rural Economic Institute, 71.2 percent said they would prepare food for the traditional ritual. This is lower than last year’s 74.4 percent.

Only about 35 percent of those that will prepare food for the rites said that they intend to prepare dishes according to traditional rules, a sharp decline from last year’s 47.6 percent.

There are rules that determine which dishes and fruit are served for the ritual and exactly where they are placed on the table. The full table setting includes fruit, dried fish, seasoned vegetables, soup, meat, jeon (small pancakes), rice and sometimes dishes favored by the deceased during his or her lifetime.

On the contrary, 35 percent said they would prepare a simpler spread with less food, higher than last year’s 29.8 percent. Some even said they would just prepare dishes preferred by their living family members, at 19.3 percent. Last year, the same answer was given by 12.4 percent of respondents.

The remaining 10.7 percent of those that will prepare food for the ritual plan to focus on dishes that were preferred by the deceased or will hire catering services.

Around 17.5 percent of respondents said they would reduce food expenses throughout the Chuseok holidays. This is a period when fresh food and fruit consumption typically sees a rise thanks to ancestral rites and large family meals. The most common reason for cutting back is lower income and plans to reduce the amount or types of food cooked.

About 72 percent of respondents plan to spend between 200,000 won ($177.39) and 400,000 won, down from last year’s 76.3 percent. Respondents who plan to spend below 200,000 won saw a sharp increase from 7.9 percent last year to 13.4 percent.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]