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Table Setting and Manners

Korean families usually eat rice, soup, and three to four dishes including the Kimchi. From each person’s left are arranged rice, soup, spoon and chopsticks, while stews and side dishes are placed in the center to be shared by all members.
Koreans use a spoon to eat rice, soup, and stews and chopsticks for rather dry side dishes, but spoon and chopsticks are not used simultaneously. Koreans also do not hold their bowls and plates while eating. When the meal is over, the spoon and chopsticks are placed back on the table.
Koreans generally believe that sharing food from one bowl makes a relationship closer. Still, one who does not wish to share the one-for-all dish can ask the host for an individual bowl or plate. Today many Korean restaurants automatically provide individual bowls and plates.
In the old days, talking was not allowed at the dinner table, but today eating etiquette has become more liberal.

> Table Setting
Above is one example of Korean traditional table setting.

5-Cheop Bansang(5 Dish Table)


> Table Manner

- When having a meal with the elderly, wait for the elders to hold their spoon first.

- Do not hold the spoon and chopsticks together in one hand. When using chopsticks, the spoon is rested on the table. Spoon and chopsticks are not rested on any bowl or dish. Do not hold the rice bowl or soup bowl in the hand.

- At first, taste soup or kimchi juice, and then try rice or other dishes. Use spoon for rice and foods with liquid such as kimchi, stew, or soup; use chopsticks for other foods.

- Do not make noises while eating and using spoon or chopsticks.

- Do not rummage rice or side dishes with spoon, and do not pick out what you don't like or shake off seasonings.

- During a meal, uneatable parts such as bones or fish bones are quietly discarded by wrapping them in a paper. Do not put them on the table or floor.

- Try to keep pace with others by eating not too fast or too slow. When having a meal with the elderly, wait for them to put the spoon and chopsticks on the table at the end of the meal.

- When using a toothpick, cover mouth with hand.