Going for Korean Food? Learn Korean Dining Etiquette

Dining is a very important part of Korean culture, as it is with many, as it is an essential social activity. Since Korea has been greatly influenced by Confucianism, it has exceptionally fastidious dining requirements.


Korean Dining Etiquette in 7 Points

Image of Korean cuisine via Shutterstock

1. Respecting elders is a crucial part of Korean culture, therefore people who are younger have to wait until elders have taken their seats. They also have to wait for their elders to finish eating before leaving the dining table. 

2. Order of dishes: When dishes arrive on the dining table, soups or stews should be tasted first. Then you can move on to rice and side dishes.

3. Sharing: Stew, soups, and meat dishes are served in a large pot, rather than in individual servings. Koreans like to share food because they believe sharing from one bowl makes people closer, strengthening relationships. It is OK, however, for diners serve individually if they do not like to share from one pot.

4. Cleaning the spoon: It is considered rude to leave food residue on the spoon. 

5. After the meal: After the meal has finished, chopsticks and spoons should return to their original positions.

6. Refill cups: When people are drinking, the cups will be refilled by fellow diners, because leaving an empty cup is considered bad manners, whether it is water or alcohol.

7. Paying the bill: In Korea, usually an older person will pay the bill, rather than diners paying individually.


Shape of Chopsticks

Asian spoon and chopsticks on bamboo mat, Korean style, via Shutterstock

Korean chopsticks are made of stainless steel, unlike other Asian countries where they are usually made out of bamboo or wood. They are shorter than Chinese chopsticks, but longer than Japanese.

The grip part of the chopsticks are usually decorated with some designs or ornamentation.



Image of a cup of tea and teapot on a wooden desk via Shutterstock

Usually, water or green tea will be served in a restaurant. 

For drinking Soju, or Korean alcohol, a separate shot glass will be provided to the diner.

Makgeolli, or Korean Beer, it is usually drank out of a bowl.



In Korea, people usually sit on the floor to dine. The floor will have cushions, so diners will not feel uncomfortable. Additionally, diners must remove their shoes before siting on the floor to eat. The floor is usually heated, so it will make diners feel comfortable. However, nowadays, tables and chairs are also often provided.


*Sunset view of old Korean buildings at Anapji Pond in Gyeongju, South Korea, via Shutterstock