South Korea etiquette · Etiquette in South Korea
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Etiquette in South Korea
Etiquette in South Korea
Koreans use chopsticks with a twist: alone among the peoples of Asia, they prefer chopsticks of metal. Typically, restaurants have stainless steel chopsticks, but fine silver ones are also available. Unfortunately for the chopstick learner, these thin and slippery sticks are not the best implements to practice with, but if you can eat with wooden or plastic chopsticks you'll manage with some fumbling. When eating as a group, communal dishes will be placed in the center and everybody can chopstick what they want, but you'll still get individual portions of rice and soup. Unless you are eating royal cuisine, most dishes are served family style.
In many traditional households, children were taught that it was impolite to speak during meals. Don't be surprised if there's complete silence while eating. People, particularly men, will use mealtimes to quickly eat up and move on to other things. This can be attributed to the short mealtimes during military service that most young Korean men must perform.
Some etiquette pointers:
Do not leave chopsticks sticking upright in a dish, especially rice. This is only done when honoring the deceased. Similarly, a spoon sticking upright into a bowl of rice is also not a good sign.
Do not start eating unless the eldest at the table has begun to eat.
Do not lift any plates or bowls off the table while eating, as Koreans consider this to be rude.
You can use your spoon to eat your rice and soup. Koreans will normally use a spoon to eat their rice and use chopsticks to eat the other dishes.
Don't be self-conscious of whether you're doing something right or wrong. Just use your common sense of politeness and good manners, and everything will be fine.
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about South Korea
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South Korea Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.