If you’re ever going to come to Korea or meet Korean meals, you’ll of course end up eating with some Korean people. When that happens, make sure you don’t offend anyone! Watch this video on table Korean manners, and make sure your etiquette is up to par.
Short list of Korean table manners:
1. Say “thank you” with 잘 먹겠습니다 (jal meokkessseumnida)
This literally means “I will eat well.” But this is a phrase used at Korean meals to thank the person who is paying.
2. Don’t stick your utensils in the rice. This is a huge faux pax in Korea as this is done only at ceremonies honoring the dead in Korea. Do not do this.
3. Wait for the oldest person to start eating before you start eating. In Korea, it’s considered manners to let the oldest person lead the way. If you’re meeting someone who you want to be respectful to that isn’t the oldest person (i.e. business meeting), you may say 먼저 드세요 (meonjeo deuseyo) to say “Please eat first.” It’s a polite way to get the meal started.
4. Leave your bowls and plates on the table. Don’t bring them up to your mouth as this is not considered good table etiquette in Korea.
5. Use one utensil at a time. Even if you’re really tempted by all the good Korean food on the table, make sure you use one utensil at a time (unless you’re cutting up a steak or something ;))
6. Blowing your nose at the table is considered poor table etiquette in Korea. Make sure you do that in the bathroom unless you want people to think you’re gross.
7. Say thanks for the meal again. In any culture, if someone is buying you a meal, you should of course thank them. People will think you have excellent Korean table manners if you say thank you by saying 잘 먹었습니다 (jal meokeossseumnida), which literally means “I ate well.” Use this phrase to say thank you in Korean.