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Korean Table Manners

A list of the most basic rules of Korean dining etiquette.


Politeness is very important to Koreans and there is a lot of emphasis placed on sharing meals and drinks. Although some of the older traditions have relaxed in recent years, this list of Korean table manners includes etiquette still in use today.

1. Wait to be seated

Wait for the oldest person/people to sit down first before you take a seat at the table.

2. Before you begin

Before you eat, especially at someone's home, it's polite to say that you are looking forward to the meal. In Korean, people say Jalmukesumneda (I will eat well).

3. Beginning the meal

Wait for the oldest person/people to lift their spoon or chopsticks first before you start eating.

4. During the meal

Don't blow your nose at the table. Ever.

5. Don't rush or linger

Try to eat at the same pace as everyone else, especially the elders.

6. Soup and rice bowls

During the meal, don't hold the bowl of soup or rice (as you might do in other Asian countries like China or Japan).

7. Double dipping

Korean meals have many communal side dishes, so don't dig into the bowls and touch a lot of the other food while you're taking your own.

8. Refilling your glass

Always pour drinks for others first, especially for those senior to you.

9. Offers of alcohol

It's not considered polite to refuse an alcoholic drink offered to you, especially from an elder.

10. Accepting dishes or drinks

When someone senior pours a drink for you, hold out your cup with both hands to accept (this also holds true for someone passing you a side dish or something else at the table).
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