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SNU’s First Halal Restaurant a Possibility

Nov 13, 2017

Orientation for foreign graduate students by SNU Office of International Affairs
Orientation for foreign graduate students by SNU Office of International Affairs

Irene, 22, is a third-year Economics student here at SNU. Granted a scholarship from the Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP), Irene came to Korea from Malaysia to pursue her post-secondary education. According to her, finding three meals a day to accommodate her dietary needs is one of her greatest difficulties. This is due not to a shortage of money, but to a lack of accommodation of her dietary needs as a Muslim adhering to a halal diet, one which is not offered in any SNU’s 25 restaurants.

The issue of finding food does not only apply to Irene but also to the approximately 300 Muslim students here at SNU. Many of them have no other choice but to prepare their meals at home. As students who carry heavy workloads, however, finding time to cook while maintaining their academic career can prove to be difficult. According to Irene, “Since we have to study and making our own food is tedious, there are many Muslim students who opt to just skip meals altogether.”

To better accommodate the Muslim students at SNU, a halal restaurant may be opening soon on Gwanak campus. Although the details of the restaurant have yet been decided, a report written by Professor Oh Myung-Seok of the Department of Anthropology had a heavy influence in the development of this latest project. In his survey, 98 SNU Muslim students were asked about their biggest challenge at SNU. 74% responded with “food” while 22.4% responded with “lack of space and time to pray.” This is in stark contrast to the number of students who responded with the judgment of other students or wearing a hijab as their greatest difficulty.

The report also states that 53% of the Muslim students home-cook all three of their daily meals. Since the SNU dormitories do not offer sufficient facilities for the students to cook, it is common for them to live off-campus.

Professor Oh states, “SNU has made efforts in recent to establish itself as an international institution by drastically increasing the number of international faculty and students, but there is a lack of consideration for accommodating their living conditions.” According to the Office of International Affairs, in 2000 the number of international students who received KGSP scholarship was 257, and this number dramatically rose to 1334 in 2015. As the restaurant will be on campus, the executives behind this project are in the brainstorming stage to try and make the restaurant appeal not only to Muslim students, but also to all members of the SNU community.

Korean Source

Written by Yu Young Jin, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,