Sample Paper on Nutrition Education and Healthcare in South Korea

Nutrition, Education, and Healthcare in South Korea

Food, Dietary Habits, and Body Image

In South Korea, a nation that modernized earlier than other Asian countries, the food transition has become unique despite the pressure for acculturation. The levels and rate of upsurge in partaking fats are relatively small, with the intake of vegetables and fruits remaining relatively high. South Koreans prefer traditional diets that are low-fat, high vegetable. Government and nutrition efforts to teach and initiate healthy eating habits among the public have aided in making South Korea one of the nations with the lowest prevalence of obesity in Asia (Kim, Moon, & Popkin, 2000).

Body image has contributed immensely to the nutrition habits. In the nation, body policing and dieting forms a common topic in daily conversations. There are both internal and external messages everywhere that arouse insecurity about people’s looks, with ads promoting unrealistic beauty standards for both women and women and advocating for traditional dieting as the approach to achieve that image. The trend differs from the USA characterized by unhealthy eating habits. In the USA, people prefer eating away from home and ordinarily these foods are high in cholesterol and fats. Fast foods are also prevalent in the nation that has moved away from traditional foods (Frazão, 1999).


In South Korea, the education structure is divided into three: 6 years of primary school, 3 years of middle school, and 3 of high school. School for kids between six and fifteen years is free. Minimal tuition fees are charged for senior high schools to supplement government funding. School funding is centralized with the education ministry providing 80% of finances. The nation also has a 97.9% literacy rate, with schools being available to pupils from all backgrounds. Students from low-income backgrounds have access to vouchers for extracurricular activities, their tuition is paid by the government and hasspecial university scholarships (Amsden, 1992). Students with special needs are also catered for with the education ministry requiring that there be at least one special school in every province. The majority of schools are publicly funded, but there are also private schools supported by parents and private donors.

The education system compares favorably to that in the USA, for example, the literacy rate is close to USA’s 99%. Both systems are mainlystate-funded, with the rate of private schools increasing. The USA, however, has a more developed system especially in higher education where eight of the top ten universities are American (Lee, Barro, & Jong‐Wha, 2001). The USA also spends more per student than South Korea. In the USA, funding for schools is usually from parents or through student loans.

Access and Utilization of Healthcare in South Korea

The South Korean health service delivery mechanism has contributed to dramatic improvements in mortality and life expectancy, which now matches the OECD criteria. The total health expenditure is 7.1% of the GDP, with most of it being largely financed by the country’s social health insurance. All Koreans except those in the lower income groups are required to pay health insurance, with 96.7% of the population being insured. Around 90% of health services are privately owned (WHO, 2012). Due to better health services and advancements in technology, communicable diseases are no longer the leading cause of death, although hepatitis A, food and water borne diseases, and imported tropical diseases are prevalent. Chronic and Non-communicable diseases account for over 70% of the deaths, with mortality being 6.63 deaths per 1,000 population. The number of physicians is 2.05 per 1,000 inhabitants while for nurses the number stands at 5.47 per 1,000 persons.

In the USA, the top causes of death are heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other chronic illnesses (Schoen, Davis, How, & Schoenbaum, 2006). The nation also has a higher death rate (8 per 1,000) as likened to South Korea. The physician to patient ratio is relatively the same (2.3 per 1,000). The USA, however, does not have a mandatory health insurance policy, and government facilities are relatively higher in number.




Amsden, A. H. (1992). Asia’s next giant: South Korea and late industrialization. London: Oxford University Press.

Frazão, E. (1999, May). America’s Eating Habits: Changes and Consequences. Retrieved from

Kim, S., Moon, S., & Popkin, B. M. (2000). The nutrition transition in South Korea. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(1), 44-53. Retrieved from

Lee, R., Barro, J., & Jong‐Wha. (2001). International data on educational attainment: updates and implications. Oxford Economic Papers, 53(3), 541-563. doi:10.1093/oep/53.3.541

Schoen, C., Davis, K., How, S. K., & Schoenbaum, S. C. (2006). US health system performance: a national scorecard. Health Affairs, 25(6), w457-w475.

WHO. (2012). Republic of Korea health service delivery profile. Manila: Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea.