Korea has a very rich culture. And this rich culture is reflected in their traditional practices. You will only better understand their culture if you are aware of their traditions. We have listed down some of the things that you should observe when dining in a Korean household or restaurant. Take note of this Korean dining etiquette to ensure that you have a great Korean dining experience.
Before The Meal
- Wait for your turn to be seated. Whether you are in a restaurant or in a Korean home, wait until you are told where to sit. Usually the oldest person/people in the group are the ones who sit first. Also, the seat farthest away from the entrance door is considered the best spot that is always reserved for the elders, important customers or bosses.
- If you will eat at someone else’s home, it is polite to say that you are looking forward to the meal. A way of saying this in Korean is “잘 먹겠습니다” (jal-meok-ke-seum-ni-da) meaning “I will eat well.”
During The Meal
- Again, pay respect to the oldest person/people in the group. Wait for them to lift their spoon or chopsticks before you start eating. No matter how hungry you are, you should observe this very important Korean table manners.
- Sit up straight and avoid hunching back. Do not blow your nose during the meal or do any disgusting manners while eating.
- Start the meal by tasting the soup, then the rice and after, the other dishes. Use spoon for rice and other liquid food. Use chopsticks for other dishes.
- It is important to avoid holding the bowl of rice or soup when eating. Rice and soup bowl should stay on the table. Unlike Japan or China or other Asian countries, Koreans do not do this.
- Avoid leaving traces of food on your spoon or chopsticks. For discarding inedible parts like bones, quietly discard it by wrapping it with a tissue paper or a napkin.
- If you can’t help but sneeze or cough, make sure that you sneeze or cough on the direction where there are no people facing you. Cover your mouth with your hand or a napkin before you cough or sneeze.
- Use chopsticks or spoon when picking up the food. It is considered impolite to use your hands in picking up the food and putting it directly into your mouth.
- Chew your food carefully and silently with your mouth closed. And do not make any unnecessary noises while chewing.
- It is also considered impolite to read a book, newspaper or watch TV while eating.
- Try to keep pace with others by eating not too fast or too slow. Wait for the elderly to put down their spoon or chopsticks before putting down yours.
- When talking, avoid pointing your chopsticks. In Korean dining etiquette, this act is considered rude.
At The End Of The Meal
- At the end of the meal, Koreans like to end their meal by consuming sungnyung. It is a traditional Korean beverage that is made from boiled scorched rice. The common local practice is that sungnyung is poured into the rice bowl. If you do not like the taste, you can have a sip and put it aside after.
- When using a toothpick, cover your mouth. Discard the toothpick by wrapping it with a tissue or napkin.
- Wait for the elders to get up, before you leave your seat.
When travelling in a foreign land, it is important to know their culture and practice. This is to avoid conflict and miscommunication. Being exposed to other cultural practices will also help us better understand the country and its people.
These are just some of the local practices that you will learn in this website. To know more about other culture and traditions, keep following our posts or subscribe to our newsletter.
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