This lunch set is available for advance purchase by visitors at Sobaeksan Mountain National Park in Chungcheongbuk-do Province. (Korea National Park Service)

This lunch set is available for advance purchase by visitors to Sobaeksan Mountain National Park in Chungcheongbuk-do Province. (Korea National Park Service)

By Park Gil-ja and Kim Minji 

Since cooking at Korean national parks is banned because flammable materials are prohibited there, visitors can instead preorder lunchboxes made with the culinary specialties of a region and pick them up at the parks.

The Korea National Park Service (KNPS), an affiliate of the Ministry of Environment, on March 26 said the lunchboxes are offered at the national parks of the mountains of Sobaeksan, Jirisan, Gayasan and Woraksan, the beach areas of Dadohaehaesang and Taeanhaean, and the city of Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province.

The service, which is growingly popular with both domestic and foreign visitors, seeks to reduce the use of disposable products and save the public the hassle of bringing their own meals.

The park at Sobaeksan was the first to launch the service in August last year, and the number of lunchbox purchases last year reached 1,092.

Spurred by the product’s growing popularity, the KNPS will expand the service to 21 of the country’s 22 national parks by June.

A user can type “내 도시락을 부탁해 (One lunchbox, please)” in the messaging app Kakao Talk to order on via chat. For English-language service, one can call the operator to reserve a meal.

Ordering must be done between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at least one day before the user visits the park.

“Users can pick up their lunchboxes at the information center in front of the park entrance and return them to (recycling) bins also at the information center on their way down. A lunchbox costs KRW 7,000-8,000 and payment can be made at the information center or through credit transfer,” a KNPS official said.

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