Saturday, December 6, 2014

Korean Etiquette Lesson: Eating & Drinking

Eating and drinking in South Korea is probably the most integral event in shaping and keeping a community together. 

Koreans tend to share everything consumable and focus on every aspect of eating and drinking. Here are some tips on how to conduct yourself politely when going out with Koreans. 

A Jeonju Bibimbab table spread

x Younger people must wait for the elder to take the first bite of the food before they can start eating themselves. Same order when leaving the table.
 You can make the first move with permission.

x Food table etiquette: don't blow your nose, belch or make noise while chewing.
Everyone does it. 

x When using chopsticks don't leave them standing up in your rice. This reminds Koreans of a practice done at funerals.
When finished eating, place chopsticks flat across the bowl of rice to signal that you are finished eating.

x Koreans are known to drink a lot. But their tolerance doesn't apply to shots stronger than vodka.
However, some folks drink a LOT of soju.
Korean pubs are much like Western pubs.
Korean beer, well, that's debatable.

x Don't pour your own (alcoholic) drink!!!! I've heard many reasons why but my favorite is that you get seven years of bad luck and the person across from you gets seven years of bad sex. Now, no one wants that.
Pour for others. If they are older, or you just want to show respect, use two hands when pouring or accepting a drink.

When drinking and smoking, younger people turn their heads away to drink or smoke. This is a sign of respect to the elders at the table.   
x When drinking and smoking with people of multiple ages it is rude for younger people to face the older people in the group. Eye contact is especially rude. 

Note: In some parts of Korea, it's considered unladylike for women to smoke. Don't worry about it with your friends but if you are with coworkers, many Koreans prefer it if you either wait or smoke in the bathroom. 

Korean drinking games are fast-paced, vicious little activities for feeding losers a lot of alcohol quickly with the intent of humiliating or physically damaging a certain member of your social group. There are hundreds of these games, which are mostly modified adaptations of each other. A Korean party may switch between several of these games in a matter of couple of minutes. Knowing how to play these games, being quick and having high alcohol tolerance can earn mucho respect.
x Any experienced drinker knows the cost of drinking excessively in games like this. No one should force anyone over his or her limit. Besides, these games are meant to be played with soju and beer. Bringing anything stronger is not recommended.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Also, check out our other Korea's To Be or Not To Be posts.

Eating & Drinking


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