Korean Table Manners
Korean table manners follow simple mannerism that is required not only on dining table but everywhere. Despite of its close proximity with China and Japan, some Korean table manners are very different, rather opposite to Chinese and Japanese table manners. Elders are given lot of respect in Korean families, hence even in restaurants and parties, elders lead the dining. This is also expected from the guest to follow this manner. Because the Korean table manners are simple, it can be easily followed and can help you impress your host.
Similarity to other East Asian countries, Korea too follows use of chopsticks, hence any table manner regarding chopsticks is usually same as in China or Japan. However, it’s always advisable to do your homework before you to dine with a Korean family. Below you have some basic rules of Korean table manner, which can help you enjoy the Korean meal the Korean way.
- Elders start the meal, so wait for them to take the seat and spread the napkin, then you may follow suit.
- Even the first serving and first bite is taken by the eldest member in the gathering so wait patiently, no matter how tempting the food might be.
- Use spoon for rice, soup and dishes like these, and use chopsticks for most other dishes. However, if you are not comfortable using chopsticks, inform the host so that they can provide fork and knife.
- Unlike Chinese and Japanese table manner, do not hold your bowl while eating.
- Again unlike Japanese culture, do not make slurping sound while eating.
- However, you may pick your tooth with a toothpick by covering the action with your hand, this is considered alright in Korean table manner.
- Do not disturb the seasoning while you take your serving from common plate.
- While holding your spoon, do not hold it like you will poke somebody, hold it like a pencil.
- Do not hold spoon and chopstick together, like you would eat one thing at a time so use each thing at a time.
- Talk as little as possible, and if you are in a conversation, talk softly (Earlier it was considered rude to talk while eating, however, now it’s more liberal)
- Sit upright and don’t lean forward to take your bite, instead, bring the food to your mouth.
- Do not talk while chewing; this is taken as rude behavior.
- Do not eat too fast or too slow, match the pace with others in the table.
- Always offer wine to other before you take. When you pour wine use both hands to hold the bottle. Also, when some elder is pouring the wine in your glass, hold your glass up with both your hands.
- Unused parts like bones can be wrapped in a paper and kept aside and are no to be left on table.
- Once done, replace your chopsticks and spoon to their original position.
- Like in the beginning, now also you should wait for elder people on the table to get up, then only you should leave.
Korean table manners take care of respect towards elders, while making sure that very guest enjoys the meal by making it smooth. And because it’s simple, you need not worry too much and can enjoy would meal and company.
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