It is taking longer than usual to pick a lunch menu for Kim Ji-young (English Literature, 4). Kim, an ordinary Korean college student who has been using the school cafeteria for the past four years, is now feeling the pinch of the global crisis over the rising food prices. “When I was a freshman, the most popular menu was ddock-bok-i (spicy rice-cake) and ramen (noodles). It changed a lot since then because the cafeteria remodeling has made this place much neater and the quality of the food improve noticeably,” Kim said. “The price increase, however, is actually depressing,” Kim said.
According to the Seoul Local Statistics Office, the consumer price index has increased from 2.6 percent of last September to 4.6 this year. The increase in consumer prices is due to gradual rise of international oil prices along with the prices of rice, sugar, flour, corn and beans.
Along with the global food price inflation, food prices in the student cafeteria have also inflated, putting an even bigger burden on students squeezed by rising tuition and prices of all other things imaginable. Beginning the last spring semester, many of the school cafeterias replaced their menu board with new ones, which displayed even higher prices. In case of Ewha, although the prices have not been raised drastically, fromabout 100 won to 200 won compared to last year, it still accounts for an approximate 10 percent increase. Some of the menus that had price increase include the food of Sodam, one of the food courts in the cafeteria that sell food in an earthen bowls such as bibimbop (mixed rice with vegetables).
Due to the rising price at school cafeterias, coupled with the stagnant pay for part-time jobs for college students, Kim can no longer have the luxury to enjoy delicate meals everyday. “I eat at the cafeteria only twice or three times a week. Other days, I have to live with sandwiches and kim-bas (rice and vegetables wrapped in seaweed),” Kim said.
The student cafeteria is not the only place affected by price increases. Also, A-rum-dul, the in-school Italian restaurant, raised its prices by almost 12 percent. Due to the increase in prices of milk, whipping cream and the like., all of the menus in the house, including Cream Chicken Spaghetti that used to be 4,600 won are now 5,000 won which used to be 4,600 won. It is Due to the increase in prices of milk, whipping cream and the like.
Park Kyongg-hee, A-rum-dul’s manager, has received complaints from the students. “We feel bad and sorry for the students too, especially when we know how burdensome it is for the students to earn money as well as to pay their tuition fees. But the ingredient’s price has inflated since last March and thus, it was inevitable to change the price,” Park said. “We tried to maintain the menu prices despite the increase in ingredients’ price of about 300 won. Now that 400 won has added, a total of 700 won is added to the original price, so we finally decided to change our menus this semester,” Park added.
Even Ewha Sa-rang, the in-school café, has raised its coffee prices from the beginning of this spring semester. Original coffee increased from 600 won to 800 won and Café latte from 1,200 won to 1,500 won. “Although the prices for coffee and kimbabs remain the same this semester, the prices of bread and sandwiches will change due to the price increase in ingredients,” said the manager of Ewha Sa-rang.
“Last semester, the coffee price was raised and I didn’t mind it. This time, again, prices for bread has increased, which annoys me,” said Oh Yu-kyung (Economics, 2). “I know that it is unavoidable for the food prices to increase. We can save the expense for drinking coffees, but it will be a serious problem if the food price continues to rise,” added Oh.