South Korea, a popular country among tourists, is a place where Muslims constitute a tiny minority of 0.2% and most of them are foreigners living there. During the last few years, many Muslims from Southeast Asia and Middle Eastern countries are visiting South Korea during holidays. Efforts to accommodate the rising number of Muslims tourists have been made by the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO), such as issuing relevant promotional travel materials like “Muslim friendly restaurants in Korea”.
According to the KTO website, Muslim tourists from Southeast Asia and Middle Eastern countries are a “focus area”. The website also has a page dedicated to information for Muslims, which provides a list of Muslim-friendly restaurants and prayer rooms, acknowledging that “it is not easy for Muslim travelers to find halal food or prayer rooms in a non-Islamic country”.
The KTO also said it is doing its best to make the country a Muslim-friendly destination.
In this article, we will be looking at all the Muslim-friendly facilities that are available in South Korea for us Muslim tourists.
Halal food restaurants:
Pork and alcohol are very commonly used in Korean cuisine. There was a time when it was hard to find halal food in South Korea, but now it is seen that more and more immigrants are opening up halal food restaurants there.However, the number of these restaurants is limited and they are located only in certain places, which makes them a little hard to find.
We have collected a number of halal South Korean restaurants as well as other Muslim-friendly food places available in Korea.
Before we name the places, it is important that you know some of these signs used to indicate halal food.
Restaurant is certified by an accredited halal certification agency such as Korea Muslim Federation (KMF).
Muslim restaurant owners certify the restaurant as halal.
Some halal dishes are provided. Alcohol may be sold.
Restaurant does not offer halal menu, but does not use pork. Alcohol may be sold.
Here are some pictograms that are used to show detailed restaurant information.
Muslim Owner/chef Halal menu available
Reservation required for Halal menu
Alcohol-free pork free
Non-Korean halal restaurants
Kampungku Malaysian Cuisine:
This restaurant is a Malaysian restaurant located near Myeongdong Street, Seoul. You can visit them for some delicious Malaysian food.
Ahmed’s Asian Cuisine:
This halal restaurant serves Asian food from the subcontinent. It is located in Jeonju. They have all sorts of desi South East Asian food.
Dongmoon express (halal restaurant):
This halal certified restaurant is located in Vivaldi Park and Nami Island. They serve halal-based Asian food. Owned by an Asian family, this café provides quick and delicious meals for Muslim tourists.
This is a Muslim-friendly restaurant that serves Japanese food, located in Wonju, Gangwon. This restaurant also provides a prayer room facility.
SEWOOGO TISH SASHIMi:
This Japanese restaurant is totally Muslim-friendly and is located in Jeonju. They can also a provide prayer room facility on demand.
Korean Halal food restaurants:
EID - 이드 Halal Korean Food:
This halal certified Korean restaurant is one of the famous restaurants in Itaewon. They serve some of the best halal Korean food with authentic taste and variety. There is also a Muslim-friendly guesthouse affiliated with Eid café.
Makan Halal Korean Restaurant:
This is another Halal Korean restaurant located in Itaewon and owned by a Muslim. They also provide the facility of packed lunches for take-outs.
This is an affordable, on-the-go snacking place located outside Seoul central mosque. They serve Muslim-friendly versions of Korean street food. A Korean Muslim owns this facility.
Busan Jib Restaurant
The restaurant is located in Myeongdong. They are known to use only halal certified meat to make authentic Korean dishes.
Murree is one of the first restaurants to serve halal Korean food in Seoul. They also serve Pakistani food.
Challenges faced by Muslims in finding halal food:
Despite the increasing number of halal food places in the country, there are still tourist areas like Hongdae where one cannot find any halal food facility.
The second concern regarding halal food available in Korea is that most of these halal restaurants serve Indian or Indonesian cuisine, which makes finding halal Korean food even more difficult.
Some Muslims who have visited the country multiple times, try to find apartments with kitchens so they can cook their own food and take it along with them.
MOSQUES AROUND SOUTH KOREA
There are around 15 mosques and 60 prayer rooms in airports, universities and shopping malls. As the Muslim community in Korea is growing, mosques are being established in different areas and prayer room facilities are also provided by some Muslim-friendly places including airports, theme parks and restaurants.
Here are the mosques that you can find in different places around Korea.
Seoul Central mosque
Seoul Central mosque, located in Itaewon, is a beautiful mosque designed with Islamic art in its interior and exterior. It is the only mosque in the city which was built by the Korean government. The mosque is gender separated and has an Islamic school in its vicinity as well.
Jeju Islamic Center
Located in Jeju, this mosque provides Muslims with copies of the Quran, prayer mats and Qibla direction with wudhu facility as well. This gives them a place of comfort and religious practicing space. This mosque is not gender separated.
Al-Azhar Islamic Center
This mosque is located in Gyeongsan. It has separate prayer areas for males and females. All the facilities including prayer mats and Quran, and wudhu space areavailable at the mosque.
This Masjid is located in Chilgok-gun. The mosque is not gender separated, and all other facilities are available there.
This mosque is located in Sacheon city. It does not have gender separated prayer areas but facilities for prayer like Quran, prayer mat, Qibla direction and wudhu space are all available.
Faizan e Madina Gimhae Masjid
Faizn e Madina Mosque is located in Gimhae city. It is gender separated and open 24 hours with all facilities available for prayer.
Faizan e Madina centers are providing various other mosques and praying facilities in various cities including Faizan e Madina Incheon masjid, Faizan e Madina Seochang masjid, Faizan e Madina Icheon, Faizan e Madina Cheonan and many other Islamic center branches around the country.
PRAYER ROOM FACILITIES
Coex Mal is one of the most popular malls in Seoul. The prayer room is on the third floor. Gender separated men and women prayer spaces are available, and the rooms come supplied with prayer garments, chairs for the elderly, as well as copies of the Quran.
Tamnara Republic is an eco-friendly park that is the latest addition in Seoul. This recreational park has gardens, water holes and small hills. It has a large library and a gallery as well. Muslims are given prayer room facility near the library. Two separate rooms are dedicated for males and females. The facilities for wudhu and prayer mats are also available for their Muslim visitors.
Jeju Folk Village Museum
This museum in Jeju also has prayer areas dedicated for Muslim tourists.
Incheon Airport Terminal 2
This airport has a very spacious prayer room on the fourth floor where a large number of people can pray in congregation.
Cheli General Hospital
This hospital located in Chunmuro, Seoul offers separate prayer halls for men and women, and both of these halls have ablution areas.
Seoul National University hospital
Seoul National University hospital has opened a 24-hour prayer room for Muslims. It has wudhu facility and two prayer rooms.
lotte world adventure is a tourists spot that offers a number of facilities for their visitors. They offer a prayer room for Muslim tourists.
“This island used to take less care of its Muslim tourists, but now due to increase in Muslim visitors, there are halal restauants and prayers halls built there at the island” says imam A. Rahman lee ju-hwa at the Korean Muslim Federation.
The prayer area is located in a building in the center of Nami Island. They have wudhu area in the same room as well as qibla direction guiding facility, andseparate rooms for men and women to pray.
“Since around 2000, it seems that Koreans have begun to understand Islam and Islamic culture a bit more, and I've traveled to many places across Korea to give lectures. Naturally, more people have begun to change their notions about Muslims,” says imam A. Rahman
The rising number of tourists from Muslim countries are bringing an image of Islam with them because the Korean people have not before been exposed to our Prophet Muhammad PBUH, and their only exposure to Islam is through us and the often negative image portrayed by the media. It is our duty that we convey a positive and true image of the religion that we believe in and practice the golden teachings of the Prophet PBUH who said:
“Verily, I was not sent to invoke curses, but rather I was only sent as mercy”.
Source: Sahih Muslim 2599, Grade: Sahih