Photo: Typical charye spread for Chuseok. Credit: Public domain.
An indispensable part of Chuseok 추석 is the food. Extended families travel to get together and hold charye 차례, a memorial service for the ancestors. The family prepares a table full of traditional dishes as an offering, then shares the food as a celebration of the harvest moon.
But this year, the soaring price of food is putting a crimp on this celebration. The price of fresh food has increased by 14.9% since September 2021; the price of fresh vegetables in particular rose by 28.0%. The cost of zucchini 애호박, an essential ingredient for hobak-jeon 호박전 - egg-coated pan-fried zucchini, one of the classic Chuseok dishes - rose by 83.2%, making some Koreans scream online that they have seen a single zucchini selling for KRW 6.9k (USD 5.5).
In a survey conducted on September 9 by Incruit 인크루트, a job searching site, 54.2% said they would simplify their Chuseok preparation; 17.4% they would give up on making Chuseok food entirely. Only 28.4% said they would carry on with the food as usual. Among those who said they would simplify or give up the Chuseok food, 85.8% cited the rising cost as the main reason.