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  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

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Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« on: November 12, 2021, 07:57:12 am »
I could never get my head around serving spicy food to kids when I was in Korea. I regularly asked my kids if they liked kimchi and a good 80% said they hated it and their parents forced them to eat it so they would be 'good Koreans'. Absolutely blows my mind.

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2021/11/281_318592.html


Civic group files petition with rights watchdog

By Bahk Eun-ji

A controversy has arisen over whether serving spicy foods as part of children's school lunches at kindergartens attached to elementary schools is in violation of their human rights.

Parents are showing mixed responses over the issue, after a civic group, Political Mamas, filed a complaint on Tuesday with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) against the Ministry of Education.

In Korea, some public kindergartens are attached to public elementary schools to share space and facilities of the schools. In most cases, children at such kindergartens also share the school cafeteria and are served the same food as elementary school students.

The civic group said kindergarteners, aged five to seven, and elementary students aged eight to 13 are served the same foods, regardless of being at different stages of physical development with quite a lot of foods containing spicy seasoning, including kimchi.

"As a result, many children at such kindergartens and some lower graders of elementary schools have difficulty eating meals because they are too spicy. This also leads to indigestion for some children," Jang Ha-na, a member of Political Mamas, said in a statement.

Students of an elementary school in Seoul are served lunch in this Oct. 13, 2019 photo. Yonhap
Meals including spicy side dishes and soups provided at public kindergartens attached to elementary schools / Courtesy of Political Mamas

"Children not eating spicy food is not about being picky. Young children have more sensitive taste buds than adults, so they can feel pain. Excessive consumption of such food can also cause problems with their digestive system," Jang said.

The civic group pointed out that private kindergartens and public ones not attached to elementary schools provide meals suitable for young children's taste and nutrition.

"Not being able to eat spicy food is not about preference or bad habits the children have to break. Forcing them to eat such food is nothing but a human rights violation," the group said.

The petition has stirred debate among parents over whether spicy meals are a violation of children's rights.

Lee Ha-na, a mother of a second grader at a public elementary school in Nowon District in Seoul and a six-year-old attending a kindergarten attached to the school, said her children do not usually eat lunch at school. She always prepares snacks for them to eat after school.

"I was a bit surprised when spicy chicken was served at my six-year-old daughter's kindergarten a few days ago. I felt terrible when my daughter said she ate only rice because the other side dishes and soup were too spicy," Lee said.

"Some people say if parents decide to send their children to such kindergartens, it means they have to shoulder such minor problems because the tuition is free. But I don't agree with that. School meals are closely related to our children's rights."

Jo Jung-ran, a mother of a six-year-old boy, also said it is a violation of children's basic rights to prevent them from having a suitable meal by providing too many spicy foods.

"Is it really necessary to feed spicy food to young children in kindergartens or lower grades of elementary school? For upper graders of elementary school, they are used to spicy food because they usually eat the same food as adults anyway, but I don't know why they provide spicy food to young children who have not yet developed their sense of taste," Jo said.

However, some others say it is an overreaction from parents who are "too sensitive."

"It's a little surprising that some people say serving spicy food in schools can be a human rights violation," said Kim Seung-ho, a father of a nine-year-old son attending a public elementary school in Songpa District in southeastern Seoul.

"My son and his friends often say they like spicy food offered as school lunch and they enjoy trying new food. I'm actually satisfied that a variety of foods are being served at the school," Kim said.

A mother of a seven-year-old daughter in Nowon District, who wished to be identified only by her surname Kim, also said those parents who don't want their children to eat spicy food should not send their children to kindergartens attached to schools.

"Parents knew the meals would be provided like this, but they made a decision. It's not possible for a school cafeteria to prepare food separately only for kindergarteners and lower graders of elementary school. It's a matter of choice, and if they make a decision, the parents are responsible for making their children get used to such spicy food," Kim said.


There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


  • CO2
  • Waygook Lord

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    • March 02, 2015, 03:41:14 pm
    • Uiwang
Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2021, 08:04:33 am »
We're making step-kiddo eat kimchi before her big jaunt into elementary school. Why? Because sometimes you do things you don't want to. We don't want her to be the kid who can't eat kimchi and cries about it. 

You think I wanna be here at school right now? Not really. I'd rather be paragliding in the Alps, but that's not realistic.

Sometimes you're tired. Sometimes you're cold. Sometimes you're hot. Sometimes the food is spicy. I'm painting with a broad brush here but Koreans take any discomfort to another level. The big song and dance about it. "Ohh, chuweo." "Ohhhh, himdeureo."

We get it. It's cold. Sometimes it's cold. It's -4, nothing bad will happen to you. You're wearing a 600$ goose down jacket FFS.

So, yeah. Step-kid gets fed some spicy stuff to prep for school. Why on Earth would we let kids eat only what they want?

So we have 20 yo would only eat miyeokguk, white rice and chicken nuggets?

We're parents, it's literally our jobs to take the kids outside comfort so they can grow and experience new things. Imagine we turned back every time stepkid said "Dari appeo?" We'd walk for 30 mins and nothing would ever get done.

Kids need to be pushed. No, don't give your 6 yo the "One Chip Challenge." But kimchi? Boo-fu**in-oo.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 09:05:10 am by CO2 »


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

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Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2021, 08:12:14 am »
We're making step-kiddo eat kimchi before her big jaunt into elementary school. Why? Because sometimes you do things you don't want to?

You think I wanna be here at school right now? Not really. I'd rather be paragliding in the Alps, but that's not realistic.

Sometimes you're tired. Sometimes you're cold. Sometimes you're hot. Sometimes the food is spicy. I'm painting with a broad brush here but Koreans take any discomfort to another level. The big song and dance about it. "Ohh, chuweo." "Ohhhh, himdeureo."

We get it. It's cold. Sometimes it's cold. It's -4, nothing bad will happen to you. You're wearing a 600$ goose down jacket FFS.

So, yeah. Step-kid gets fed some spicy stuff to prep for school. Why on Earth would we let kids weat only what they want?

So we have 20 yo woul only eat miyeokguk, white rice and chicken nuggets?

We're parents, it's literally our jobs to take the kids outside comfort so they can grow and experience new things. Imagine we turned back every time stepkid said "Dari appeo?" We'd walk for 30 mins and nothing would ever get done.

Kids need to be pushed. No, don't give your 6 yo the "One Chip Challenge." But kimchi? Boo-fu**in-oo.

Why is it necessary to force them to eat spicy food? Some dumb adults that control what food kids eat at school thinks they are being a good Korean by forcing the issue. Korea's obsession with kimchi blows my mind. Trying to justify feeding kids spicy food because they must learn to do things they don't like is just plain stupid.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


  • CO2
  • Waygook Lord

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    • March 02, 2015, 03:41:14 pm
    • Uiwang
Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2021, 08:14:34 am »
Why is it necessary to force them to eat spicy food? Some dumb adults that control what food kids eat at school thinks they are being a good Korean by forcing the issue. Korea's obsession with kimchi blows my mind. Trying to justify feeding kids spicy food because they must learn to do things they don't like is just plain stupid.

Because, again, they're children. They need to eat things they don't want to discover new flavours, textures and experiences.

Now, if you wanna argue about having it every single day for the rest of their lives, I can listen. But kids don't dress themselves, they don't decide where they go on vacation. Parents shape their lives in their image. For better or worse. The kids don't run the show.


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

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Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2021, 08:21:33 am »
CO2, NOTHING you say will ever convince me that feeding spicy food to kids so that they experience new flavors is good. Healthy food, yes but do a little research and you will see kimchi is not healthy and spicy food is not good for you. The Korean guy that wrote a scientific paper on the dangers of kimchi was actually forced to leave Korea because he shamed the country. I have his research at home somewhere and if I can lay my hands on it, I will post it here later.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

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There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


  • 745sticky
  • Hero of Waygookistan

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    • March 26, 2020, 01:52:57 pm
    • Korea
Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2021, 08:28:56 am »
Because, again, they're children. They need to eat things they don't want to discover new flavours, textures and experiences.

kids dont want to eat spicy foods because theyre avoiding a new flavor/texture/whatever, though. it is literally physically painful for them because of the acid reflux.


Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2021, 08:43:16 am »
Yeah, I'll force my kid to eat healthy foods as long as those foods don't make them sick. Spicy foods don't fall under that umbrella, and they absolutely do present health problems for many demographics, young children included.

It isn't good for them, and it fucks up their digestive tracts.

My kid can learn to appreciate all manners of foods without me trying to force unhealthy and painful options down their throats. **** what the other parents think about that. Imagine being called a bad parent because you don't want to force your kid to eat something that literally causes them pain or makes them sick. Because somehow making 4-5 year olds eat spicy foods will make them more ready for the adult culinary world. FFS.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 08:47:55 am by Chinguetti »


  • Mr C
  • The Legend

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    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2021, 08:46:20 am »
It is my understanding that kimchi provides lactobacilli which are needed to breakdown grains during digestion.  You can also get the bacillus from dairy products, but they weren't much of a thing in east Asia.  So, for a long time, kimchi was necessary to the diet--but it was only a couple hundred years ago that peppers got added.  It was always sour.

And don't forget that kimchi does have health benefits, too: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-kimchi

But I think there's really no need for elementary schools to serve very spicy foods.  I've taught at three elementary schools in Seoul, and it's my experience that they don't.  We had bibimbap yesterday, and the gochujang was mainly jang--hardly any gochu.

But the kimchi is always sour.


Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2021, 08:52:41 am »
Pizza has health benefits, too. J/s.

Spicy kimchi is definitely one of those foods that can benefit adults if eaten in moderation. Not kids. It's too salty, and all of that bacteria goes to waste when your guts are literally constantly inflamed.

Kimchi has been linked to many health problems, INCLUDING gastric cancer.

That's not something you should be giving to young children whose tracts are still developing.


Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2021, 08:53:10 am »
Previous hagwon was run by a crazy old lady. Even the Korean teachers called her that behind her back. One of those situations where the boss is so insane that they unite the Korean and foreigners at times. Rare, that. Anywho, at one of our weekly meetings she told us that we need to ask the kids how much food they wanted instead of merely giving them what we thought was best. Fair enough.

One week later:

*randomly walks into the 6-year old classroom as we are serving food*

"Why are you only giving them one piece of kimchi?"

Myself and partner teacher: "Um, they didn't want more..."

She proceeds to pick up the kimchi tray and drops four extra pieces on the food tray of every student, despite protests of "No!" and the "X" arm symbol. She exits the class, leaving half the kids in tears. In order to eat it all they had to mix it with their rice. Some were gagging.  The Korean partner teacher looked ready to throw down. They already had plenty of meat, soup, and rice. Why did they need more kimchi? We know why.

Good times.
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Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2021, 08:55:57 am »
Like I remember a user way back who tried to justify smoking as having health benefits because it kills unhealthy bacteria found in the mouth and throat.

The difference here may not be as extreme, but it's the same logic.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 08:57:47 am by Chinguetti »


Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2021, 09:49:55 am »
My granddaughter's kindergarten won't serve anything even remotely spicy. She's 7 next month, and eats most things without fuss, but won't go near spicy food. Most of her friends are the same, apparently.


  • VanIslander
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Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2021, 11:10:57 am »
When I first arrived in Korea I was surprised when my elementary school students told me:

1. Most of them don't like kimchi;

2. NONE of them like ginseng (only 2 middle school students in 18+ years of hagwoning have said it's even okay/not bad);

3. Regular Tobasco sauce was "too spicy", students acting like they were fighting death when they volunteered to put it on their pizza during end-of-book party classes.


Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2021, 11:13:13 am »
If kimchi were as dangerous as people here are claiming, this place would have life expectancies similar to Sub-Saharan Africa, with childhood mortality rates to match.

Of course kids hate vegetables. Most kids have 2-3 vegetables they love and hate the rest. If you asked kids to design their meal it would be fried rice, fried chicken, french fries, soda, and fruit candy (for the vitamins).

Should spice levels be lowered and mild kimchi served? Yes. Is it a human rights violation and some massive health risk? No.


Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2021, 11:19:30 am »
kids dont want to eat spicy foods because theyre avoiding a new flavor/texture/whatever, though. it is literally physically painful for them because of the acid reflux.
Remembering my time as a kid, my unwillingness to eat spicy food was the burning of the tongue, not acid reflux. You see kids eating all manner of food. You almost never see them reach for Tums.


  • VanIslander
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Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2021, 11:26:57 am »
If kimchi were as dangerous as people here are claiming, this place would have life expectancies similar to Sub-Saharan Africa, with childhood mortality rates to match.
Childhood mortality is more about sanitation, viral infections and malnutrition.

But Korea is BY FAR #1 in stomach cancer in the world. Only Japan and Mongolia are close in terms of cancer rates.

WHAT are Koreans putting in their stomach that those elsewhere aren't?


  • 745sticky
  • Hero of Waygookistan

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Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2021, 11:35:22 am »
Remembering my time as a kid, my unwillingness to eat spicy food was the burning of the tongue, not acid reflux.

ok? different people have different bodies/tolerances/etc. i think its pretty obvious that we're talking generatlities here, idk what your anecdote has to do with it


You see kids eating all manner of food. You almost never see them reach for Tums.

this is confirmation bias, or maybe youre just making stuff up


Should spice levels be lowered and mild kimchi served? Yes. Is it a human rights violation and some massive health risk? No.

wasnt saying it was a massive health risk, just that it causes pain


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

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Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2021, 11:40:05 am »
From the LA Times.

Among the papers not to be found in the vast library of the kimchi museum is one published in June 2005 in the Beijing-based World Journal of Gastroenterology titled “Kimchi and Soybean Pastes Are Risk Factors of Gastric Cancer.”

The researchers, all South Korean, report that kimchi and other spicy and fermented foods could be linked to the most common cancer among Koreans. Rates of gastric cancer among Koreans and Japanese are 10 times higher than in the United States.

“We found that if you were a very, very heavy eater of kimchi, you had a 50% higher risk of getting stomach cancer,” said Kim Heon of the department of preventive medicine at Chungbuk National University and one of the authors. “It is not that kimchi is not a healthy food -- it is a healthy food, but in excessive quantities there are risk factors.”

Kim said he tried to publicize the study but a friend who is a science reporter, told him, “This will never be published in Korea.”

Other studies have suggested that the heavy concentration of salt in some kimchi and the fish sauce used for flavoring could be problematic, but they too have received comparatively little attention.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


Re: Does serving spicy food to young children violate human rights?
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2021, 11:49:02 am »
Childhood mortality is more about sanitation, viral infections and malnutrition.

But Korea is BY FAR #1 in stomach cancer in the world. Only Japan and Mongolia are close in terms of cancer rates.

WHAT are Koreans putting in their stomach that those elsewhere aren't?
And if stomach cancer was the only cancer out there that might be more of an issue.

I don't know what Korea is doing differently, but the fact that Mongolia and Japan are the closest and have significantly different diets suggests a genetic susceptibility rather than dietary.

Why isn't there a similar risk in othet countries with spicy/pickled food in common consumption?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 11:50:52 am by Mr.DeMartino »