Gimbap (김밥) is a Korean-style makizushi, a sushi roll, made from cooked rice and other ingredients that are rolled in gim—dried sheets of seaweed—and served in bite-sized slices,[1] and was formerly known as Norimaki. The dish is often part of a packed meal, or dosirak, to be eaten at picnics and outdoor events, and can serve as a light lunch along with takuan (yellow pickled radish) and kimchi. It is a popular take-out food in South Korea and abroad,[2] and is known as a convenient food because of its portability. It is usually well wrapped (traditionally with aluminium foil, but now sometimes in paper) and does not have any liquid ingredients.

Vegetable gimbap.jpg
sliced vegetable gimbap
Place of origin South Korea
Main ingredientsGim, bap
VariationsChungmu-gimbap, samgak-gimbap
Similar dishesNorimaki
Korean name
Revised Romanizationgimbap


Gim () refers to edible seaweed in the genus Porphyra and Pyropia. Bap () broadly refers to "cooked rice". The compound term gimbap is a neologism; it was not a part of the Korean language until late modern period.

The term gimbap was used in a 1935 Korean newspaper article,[3] but at the time, the loanword norimaki had been used as well. Norimaki, which borrowed from the name of a similar Japanese dish, was part of the Japanese vocabulary that entered into the Korean language during the Korea under Japanese rule (1910–1945). The two words were used interchangeably until gimbap was made the universal term as part of efforts to clear away the remnants of japanese loanword and purify the Korean language.[4]


Gimbap was derived from norimaki, which is a type of sushi. Norimaki was invented in Edo period and noted in 1750.[5] [6] Japan introduced the norimaki to Korea during the Korea under Japanese rule.[7][8][9]

Gimbap became popular in South Korea from the 1960s to the 1970s as a type of portable food or fast food because it was easy to eat without side dishes.[10][7] Before that time, only the wealthy were allowed to take gimbap on field trips.[11][7]

For many years, Gimbap was called "Norimaki" in japanese language in South Korea, but in 1948 the Government of South Korea decided to call it "Gimbap" in accordance with its policy of Linguistic purism in Korean, and it was designated as "Norimaki".

However, the name Norimaki remained commonly used until the 1990s, so the Ministry of Culture and Tourism published "A Collection of Japanese Language Mellowing Materials" in 1995 and "A Collection of Japanese Language Mellowing Materials in Life" in 1996 by the National Institute of Korean Language, which promoted the replacement of Norimaki with Gimbap as one of the Japanese words that remain in the language of everyday life, and since then the name "Gimbap" has become established.[12][13]

North Korean GimbapEdit

North Korea also has a thin roll of Gimbap, which is a norimaki popularized by returnees from a program of returning Koreans in Japan that began in 1959.[14]

Legendary StoryEdit

According to Yeoryang Sesigi (1819), eating cooked meat or the other ingredients rolled in leaf vegetable such as lettuce is also a long-standing Korean custom and an early form of ssam called bokssam (박점; transcribed using the hanja 縛苫, pronounced bakjeom in Korean).[15][16] However, some have pointed out that the gimbap and the ssam are completely different.

About the misunderstandingEdit

Since around the 2000s, the claim that "the origin of Gimbap is Korean" has been frequently made by both media and individuals in South Korea,[17][18] but the fact that it originated in Japan during the Japanese occupation is clearly stated in the Dictionary of Traditional Korean Culture and many other sources.[19][20][7]

Ingredients and preparationEdit

Cheese gimbap and tuna gimbap
Gimbap with meat

Gim and bap are the two basic components of gimbap. While Japonica rice is most commonly used, short-grain brown rice, black rice, or other grains may also serve as the filling.

Some varieties of gimbap include cheese, spicy cooked squid, kimchi, luncheon meat, or spicy tuna. The gim may be brushed with sesame oil or sprinkled with sesame seeds. In one variation, sliced pieces of gimbap may be lightly fried with an egg coating.

Fillings vary, often with vegetarian and vegan options.[21] Popular ingredients include takuan (yellow pickled radish), ham, beef, imitation crab meat, egg strips, kimchi, bulgogi, spinach, carrot, burdock root, cucumber, canned tuna, and kkaennip (perilla leaves).

To make the dish, gim sheets are toasted over a low heat, cooked rice is lightly seasoned with salt and sesame oil, and vegetable and meat ingredients are seasoned and stir-fried or pan-fried. The toasted gim is then laid on a makisu—a bamboo gimbap roller—with a thin layer of cooked rice placed evenly on top. Other ingredients are placed on the rice and rolled into a cylindrical shape, typically 3–4 centimetres (1.2–1.6 in) in diameter. The rolled gimbap is then sliced into bite-sized pieces.[22]

makisu, bamboo gimbap roller
arranging the ingredients
rolling gimbap


  • Chungmu-gimbap (충무김밥) – Originating from the seaside city of Chungmu (currently Tongyeong), the dish features thinner rolls with an unseasoned surface and only rice as the filler ingredient. It is served with spicy ojingeo-muchim (squid salad) and seokbakji (radish kimchi).[23]
  • Mayak-gimbap (마약김밥) – A specialty of Gwangjang Market in Seoul. Mayak translates as "drug", a reference to its allegedly addictive and concentrated flavour. Small gimbap filled with carrots, spinach, and danmuji (yellow pickled radish) is sprinkled with ground sesame seeds and dipped in its pairing sauce made from soy sauce and mustard.
  • Samgak-gimbap (삼각김밥) – Literally "triangle gimbap". This variety is similar to Japanese onigiri, and is sold in convenience stores in South Korea.[24] Fillings vary greatly. The expiration date is 1 day, and has a calorific value of between 140 and 200 kilo calories usually.[25]
  • nude gimbap – Unlike ordinary gimbap, the ingredients of the gimbap go inwards, and the rice comes out and covers the entire area.[clarification needed] It is similar to Japanese style rolls, but uses ingredients used in Korean-style kimbap (hams, meat fillets, pickled radish, spinach, etc.) and is also served with cheese or sauce.

Restaurant franchisesEdit

Many South Korean fast food restaurant franchises specialize in gimbap and noodles. Among the chains are Gimbap Cheonguk (김밥천국), Kobongmin Gimbabin (고봉민김밥人), Chungmu Gimbab Matjuk (충무김밥), Teacher Kim (바르다김선생), Gimbap Nara (김밥나라), Gimgane (김家네), Gobong Gimbap (고봉김밥), Jongro Gimbap (종로김밥), Rolling Rice, Gimbap King (김밥 King), and Charles Sutbul Gimbap (찰스숯불김밥).[26] Some of these restaurants also serve other dishes, including dongaseu (pork cutlet), ramyeon (instant noodles), udong (thick noodle soup), naengmyeon (cold noodles), bibimbap, and stews such as kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew), doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew), sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew), and omurice.

Cultural signifier of povertyEdit

Gimbap is generally sold, pre-cut, in restaurants. However, due to the negative stigma surrounding begging, unskilled public busking and prostitution (illegal in South Korea), selling whole gimbap as a street vendor is seen as the final noble and dignified form of busking that an otherwise able person, or family members of affected people, can do to get out of poverty. This is because virtually everybody can make this, and it is much more cost and time effective, and less labour-intensive, than making kimchi or preserved fruits. Vendors often sell and eat gimbap as an entire log, even after they are out of poverty or emergency. Selling whole also extends shelf life, and signifies longevity. [27]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ National Institute of Korean Language (30 July 2014). "주요 한식명(200개) 로마자 표기 및 번역(영, 중, 일) 표준안" (PDF) (in Korean). Retrieved 15 February 2017. Lay summaryNational Institute of Korean Language.
  2. ^ Alexander, Stian (21 January 2016). "UK's new favourite takeaway has been revealed - and it's not what you'd think". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. ^ "휴지통". The Dong-a Ilbo (in Korean). 14 January 1935. Retrieved 26 February 2017 – via Naver. 문어 점복에 김밥을 싸먹고 목욕한후 바위등에 누으면 얼화만수——
  4. ^ "노리마키(海苔卷)". National Institute of Korean Language (in Korean). Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  5. ^ 料理山海郷"Ryori Sankai kyo". Edo,Japan: 中川/藤四郎〈京〉,中川/新七〈京〉. 1750.
  6. ^ "料理山海郷 - 国立情報学研究所".
  7. ^ a b c d [1] 文化体育観光部 文化ストーリーテリング 김밥
  8. ^ 国立国語院編集 (2006). 韓国伝統文化事典. Translated by 趙完済, 三橋広夫和書. 教育出版. ISBN 978-4316801032.
  9. ^ 鄭銀淑 (2007). 韓国・下町人情紀行. 朝日新書和書. 朝日新聞社. ISBN 978-4022731500.
  10. ^ 박정배의 한식의 탄생 1819년엔 '福쌈'이라 불려… 이젠 프리미엄 김밥도ChosunBiz 2016.10.12
  11. ^ 추억의 절반은 맛이고 가을소풍의 절반은 김밥이다 2013.9.5
  12. ^ 財団法人自治体国際化協会「国語純化運動
  13. ^ 2009年3月17日 PRESSian1995年発行「日本語式生活用語純化集」紹介記事Template:リンク切れ(朝鮮語)
  14. ^ <북한사진보고> 의외로 다양한 북한 서민의 식사(3) 검고 긴 이 음식은 무엇? 어디서 본 듯…asiapress 2017/7/24
  15. ^ Kim, Maesun (1819). Yeoryang Sesigi 열양세시기(洌陽歲時記) [Records of Seasonal Festivities around the Capital]. Joseon Korea.
  16. ^ 박, 정배 (12 October 2016). "1819년엔 '福쌈'이라 불려… 이젠 프리미엄 김밥도". The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  17. ^ 『 [지평선] ‘바른 김밥 식당’의 갑질』 韓国日報 2017年12月13日
  18. ^ 『 [발언대] 우리의 자랑 김밥을 세계인 간편식으로』 朝鮮日報 2017年12月27日
  19. ^ 国立国語院編集 (January 2006). 韓国伝統文化事典. Translated by 趙完済, 三橋広夫. 教育出版. ISBN 978-4316801032.
  20. ^ 鄭銀淑 (June 2007). 韓国・下町人情紀行. 朝日新書. 朝日新聞社. ISBN 978-4022731500.
  21. ^ Goldberg, Lina (23 March 2012). "Asia's 10 greatest street food cities". CNN. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  22. ^ "gimbap" 김밥. Korean Food Foundation. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Chungmu-gimbap" 충무김밥. Doopedia (in Korean). Doosan Corporation. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  24. ^ Choi, Hyun-joo (18 May 2017). "Republic of convenience stores". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  25. ^ "삼각김밥", 위키백과, 우리 모두의 백과사전 (in Korean), 2018-07-24, retrieved 2019-03-18
  26. ^ 이, 창선 (5 December 2016). "[김밥 프랜차이즈 브랜드평판] 1위 김밥천국, 2위 고봉민김밥인, 3위 충무김밥". The Korea Financial Times (in Korean). Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  27. ^ Yena and Sad Gimbap Story [IZ*ONE CHU EP. 4], retrieved 2020-06-13

External linksEdit