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Differences between Korean and Chinese dining etiquette


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Did anyone notice the similarities and differences between Korean and Chinese dining etiquette? Based on my observations, here is what I found:

Similarities:

1) It is considered rude to pour your own drink without offering to pour someone else's drink first. Actually in Korean banquets, it is common etiquette to never pour your own drink. Instead you let the host or someone else pour your drink for you, and then you return the favor to him or her.

2) Most people are aware that in both cultures, you should never stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice bowl. This is taboo in both cultures.

3) Both cultures like to fight over the bill. Typically, Americans like to be treated out to dinner, while Chinese and Koreans love to treat you to dinner. Even though you are the one being invited by your host to lunch or dinner, it is common courtesy to fight for the bill even though your host is expected to pay for it. Otherwise it is rude not to put in any effort to prevail over the bill.

Differences:

1) Korean meals or banquets tend to more quieter than Chinese ones. Chinese people have a greater tendency to talk over dinner, which is why many restaurants can seem like festivals in an auditorium.

2) Unlike Chinese diners, Koreans do not pick up the rice bowl and hold it to their mouths. It stays on the table. Even though my sister and I are majority-Chinese by blood, we always leave the rice bowl on the table when eating rice (strong cultural influence from our maternal grandmother). Personally I find holding a bowl of rice to my mouth very awkward.

3) Koreans often use the spoon to eat rice, while Chinese almost always use chopsticks. The former also uses chopsticks for rice, but to a lesser degree than the latter.

4) It is not correct for ladies at Korean banquets to pour for other ladies. Men are expected to pour for the women.

5) If you are dining out with Korean friends, you may be expected to wait for them to finish praying (if they are Christian) before you start eating. At my family dinner table, everyone waits for my grandmother to lead the praying. We can then start once she is finished.

6) If singing is involved at the end of a Korean banquet, you are expected to sing. If your host offers you the microphone during karaoke, it will be an insult if you refuse to sing. Unlike the American Idol auditions where singing wannabes are often laughed at, it is ok if your singing turns out like William Hung's.

I am not sure whether this is a consistent norm in Chinese and Korean cultures, but it is considered sanitary to use separate utensils to pick up food from the various dishes on the table (one utensil placed in each dish). Most people would prefer you to use the utensils, rather than use your own chopsticks.

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4) It is not correct for ladies at Korean banquets to pour for other ladies. Men are expected to pour for the women.
Interesting, so for men they may pour?
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I am not used to dine out with Korean friend in Korean restaurant on one aspect.

Usually at least one hot stew or one hot soup is ordered for a group dinner. The problem is that everyone is using his/her silver spoon to scoop the fluid from that hot pot. After the first scoop, then the second scoop, and then the third scoop,.....finally everyone is sharing their saliva in the stew or soup.

Even though one of my Korean friends is a medical doctor, he still doesn't hesitate to share everybody's saliva.

Another bad habit is that when guys drink, they love to exchange soju cups which I hesitantly follow their habit.

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Same thing happened to me with my korean friend, he doesn't seem to mind sharing drinks and dinning utensils, but I do...

Also on the lifting or not lifting the rice bowl, koreans eat sticky rice, which makes it a lot easier to eat with the bowl on the table. I find it hard to eat Chinese rice that way, plus it's impolite to eat with only one hand in Cantonese culture.

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PollyWaffle
1) It is considered rude to pour your own drink without offering to pour someone else's drink first. Actually in Korean banquets, it is common etiquette to never pour your own drink. Instead you let the host or someone else pour your drink for you, and then you return the favor to him or her.

in japan you never pour your own drink... in my experience, a korean who is younger than you will always pour your drink for you, & s/he turns their back towards you when they imbibe...

1) Korean meals or banquets tend to more quieter than Chinese ones.

yep, in my experience koreans do not like to talk during dinner but wait till they have eaten to begin conversation

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yep, in my experience koreans do not like to talk during dinner but wait till they have eaten to begin conversation

"食不言,寝不语" is a Chinese etiquette, but as with everything the Chinese lost most of what they once valued. I think having a large and diverse(ified) population + poverty + extinction of the Chinese upper class (i.e. monarchs) led to the deterioration of Chinese manners..

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people around zhejiang/jiangsu eat sticky rice (the fat kind) too, we also put the rice bowl to our mouths. same with the japanese. it's really hard to eat rice with chopsticks with the rice bowl on the table, sticky or nonsticky. when the rice is sticky, the bowl has a tendency to tip over, so it's just as hard as non-sticky rice. most koreans i know seem to just use the spoon.

not all chinese dinners/banquets are loud.

it really depends on where you are from and what type of restaurant you are going to, and the company you have.

yeah, while growing up, i was also told not to talk much while eating and remain pretty quiet to this day when dining.

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The toasts in Korean sound similar to toasts in Chinese. Koreans say "konbae haeyo", sounding a little like 乾杯.

Japanese say "kanpai".

Also in Cantonese culture, you should never flip the fish in front of you at the dinner table. This may not necessarily apply to every Cantonese household. When I dined with my late, paternal Cantonese grandfather, he said it is bad luck to flip the fish over. And I remembered that everyone at his dinner table reserved the best parts of the fish, the head and skull, for him.

Flipping the fish is not a concern in Korean culture because Koreans tend to eat slices of fish placed in a dish as part of a hanjeongshih arrangement, or in a soup stew.

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