Dwaeji-gukbap (pork and rice soup) with a cube of kkakdugi (diced radish kimchi)
Place of originKorea
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsGuk (soup), bap (cooked rice)
Similar dishesNoodle soup
Korean name
Revised Romanizationgukbap

Gukbap (Korean국밥; lit. soup rice) is a Korean dish made by putting cooked rice into hot soup or boiling rice in soup.[1][2] It is commonly served in a ttukbaegi. Whereas soup and rice is generally eaten separately in Korea, in gukbap, rice is expected to be mixed into the soup.

As inns appeared, gukbap became popular at the end of the Joseon Dynasty. It was a food that the common people ate often.[3][4]


A jumak (tavern for merchants that served food and alcohol)
Gim Hong-do's "Jumak" painting depicting gukbap being served

In the early Japanese colonial period, gukbap was eaten by those of low social status and was rarely served in yangban (noble) households.[5] As a result, Gukbap is known as the first fast food in Korea because of its affordability. The first record of gukbap in literature is in the "Journal of Royal Secretariat" (Seungjeongwon Ilgi). The journal stated that female physicians recommended the dish to King Sukjong due to its heartiness.[6] During the Joseon Dynasty, gukbaps were served in jumaks, a tavern for merchants that served alcohol. As jumaks began to develop on roadside areas, gukbap was given the name "janggukbap": gukbap sold in jangsi (markets). Illustrations of gukbap being served in jumaks can be seen in Gim Hong-Do's paintings from the Joseon Dynasty. In the art piece, a barmaid is serving the dish while a customer opens a pouch to pay for his meal.[6]

During the 19th century, the dish became commercialized and was sold in large-scale markets. After Korea's liberation, variations of the dish began to emerge by region. Rituals through ancestral rites were common in the Joseon Dynasty. At these rites, meat dishes from pigs and cattle were regularly present.[6] Due to the frequency of these rituals, a meat-eating culture developed and meat based soups, like gukbap, became popular.  The first gukbap recipe in Korean literature is the Gyugon Yoram from the 18th century. This recipe states that it is made by "placing oily meat stewed in a sauce over the rice".[6] The broth is made by boiling down pork bones to create a cloudy, translucent, or clear appearance. The original form uses the translucent broth that originates from war refugees of North Korea. Those of the western part of the South Gyeongsang Province developed a leaner clear broth.[7] Technological advances caused the preparation of gukbap to vary over time. Before the 1970s, refrigeration and food heating was not accessible in Korea. Therefore, the cooked rice was pre-placed in a bowl and restaurants would repeatably pour the broth to heat the dish.[8] With the introduction of cooking appliances, the ttarogukbap (rice and soup placed separately) that is seen today emerged.


Gukbap is a compound of guk (soup) and bap (cooked rice).



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  2. ^ "gukbap" 국밥. Korean–English Learners' Dictionary. National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  3. ^ "국밥". Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  4. ^ "국밥". Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture (in Korean). Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  5. ^ "Gukbap for the Korean Soul". The UOS Times(서울시립대영자신문) (in Korean). 2022-04-28. Retrieved 2023-10-10.
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  7. ^ "Local Wartime Dishes". Koreana. 33: 35.
  8. ^ "한식진흥원 : The Memory of a Warm Spoonful of Gukbap". 한식진흥원 (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-10-10.
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