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A Guide to Korean Table Manners

A Guide to Korean Table Manners
Whether you're visiting Korea or hosting a Korean dinner party at your place, it's always a good idea to know the correct dining etiquette. Politeness and respect for elders are both very important considerations during Korean meals. Read on for a comprehensive guide to Korean table manners.

1. Wait to be seated
Younger people should remain standing and allow older diners to be seated before sitting down themselves.

2. Tell the host you are looking forward to eating
Once the food has been presented, don't dig straight in. You should first express to the host that you are looking forward to eating the meal. In Korean, the word for this is "Jalmukesumneda" which means "I will eat well".

3. Wait to eat
Yep, a little more waiting.  Even after waiting to be seated and expressing that you are looking forward to eating, you still need to wait for the oldest person to begin eating before you can start. When you start to eat, you should first taste the soup or kimchi juice before moving on to the other dishes. 

4. Be hygienic
You should never blow your nose at the table, if you really need to, you should excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a napkin and turn your head away from the table. When extracting inedible parts of your meal such as bones or gristle, wrap them in a napkin before placing them to the side. 

5. Keep pace with others
Try to eat at the same pace as your fellow diners so that you don't finish long before or after the rest of the table. This is an especially important custom to observe when you are dining with elders. 

6. Bowl etiquette
Don't hold your bowl while you eat as you might do in other Asian countries. At the end of the meal, pour boiled water into your rice bowl and drink it. 

7. Don't double dip
There are a lot of communal dishes in Korean meals, so it is important not to double dip. You should also never use your hands to serve yourself.

8. Drink etiquette
Always refill others' glasses before pouring yourself a drink, especially those older than you. If an elder offers you an alcoholic drink it is rude to refuse it. In order to respectfully accept, you should hold out both hands while they pour. 
If you want to practice your Korean table manners, try hosting your own authentic Korean dinner party with help from Asian Home Gourmet's Korean range.

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