Want to Be Extra Polite in Korea? Don’t Refuse Food – Seoulistic

Want to Be Extra Polite in Korea? Don’t Refuse Food

Koreans like to stuff and stuff themselves with food when they’re with special guests. And that means food, cakes, coffee, fruit and probably round 2 after that. That’s a lot of food. So here’s a quick tip to let you know how you can be extra polite!

Here’s a totally common scenario:

Let’s say you fell in love with a Korean boy/girl and you’re about to get married. Big deal right?! That means a lot of food. So your new inlaws invite you over for galbi, and you stuff yourself just like your momma said you shouldn’t. But whatever… homemade Korean food is crazy delicious and you’re super happy and full. But then the mom brings out the cake you brought (read why you should here), and you say: “No thank you. I’m full.” After discussing marriage stuff, your future inlaws then bust out some fruit. You stare at them and wonder how Koreans stay so skinny when they eat this much. And say “No thank you. I am too full.”

Sorry friend, you made the wrong move… twice! Now your marriage is at stake! Muhaha!

Ok, just kidding. They most likely won’t care. But a lot of Koreans, even if they’re super full, will try to eat those little post meal extras to be extra polite. Many Koreans consider it good manners to take anything offered to you, even if you don’t really want it. So instead of refusing, many Koreans will eat the food offered to them in an effort to be polite. So if you want to be polite in a really Korean way, just take it yo! But if you really can’t (full, allergies, religious reasons). Don’t worry. It’s not a big deal at all 😉

Tip: This quick tip is usually for trying to be polite to Koreans that you want to impress (i.e. people older than you, your boss, future inlaws, etc.).

Tip 2: If you want to be extra polite, but don’t really want it, just nibble on it 🙂

Also, find out why eating everything is considered one of our:
8 Ways to Make a Good Impression in Korea!

Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he's put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.


  1. C says:

    This is quite hard for vegetarians. I had to reject so much food, i felt bad. But i ate so much more than i could handle when i went to Korea lol. My stomach felt like it was about to burst.

  2. rachel says:

    i like food i everyway that means i am very polite 😉

  3. Sam Tsai says:

    it’s true for my family, too, haha. Asian cultures are so alike.

  4. Alex says:

    Really, now. When was the last time you had cantelope forced upon you anywhere in Korea?

  5. Meredith says:

    Hey there! A friend and I may be visiting Korea in July of the upcoming year, but I have a pretty severe Gluten allergy. I know to ask about ingredients and doing my own homework reading the blogs of others’ gluten-allergy adventures, but will this offend and cooks or chefs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *