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What do Koreans say before and after eating?


Korean culture is known for its unique customs and traditions, especially when it comes to food. One of the most interesting aspects of Korean dining culture is the sayings and expressions that Koreans use before and after eating. These sayings not only express gratitude and appreciation for the meal but also reflect the social values of Korean society. In this article, we will explore the various phrases and expressions that Koreans use before and after eating.

Before Eating

Before starting a meal, Koreans often say “jal meokkessumnida,” which means “I will eat well.” This expression is used to express gratitude for the food and to show respect for the person who prepared it. Koreans also commonly say “cham makh-eoyo,” which means “it looks delicious,” expressing their anticipation for the meal. Another phrase often used before eating is “jal jinaesseoyo,” which means “I have waited long enough.” It expresses gratitude for the food and appreciation for the effort put into preparing it.

After Eating

Once the meal is finished, Koreans often say “jal meogeosseumyeon doegetseumnida,” which means “thank you for the delicious meal.” This expression shows respect and gratitude towards the person who prepared the food. Another common phrase after eating is “baegopa,” which means “full.” It expresses satisfaction with the meal and acknowledges that one has eaten enough. Lastly, Koreans often say “jal jinaebnida,” which means “I am satisfied.” This expression shows appreciation for the meal and acknowledges its importance in satisfying one’s hunger.

Social Values Reflected in Dining Culture

The sayings used before and after eating in Korean culture reflect the importance of social values such as respect, gratitude, and appreciation. By expressing gratitude towards those who prepared the meal, Koreans show their respect for others and their hard work. Additionally, by acknowledging satisfaction with the meal and expressing anticipation for it, Koreans show their appreciation for the food and its role in bringing people together.

Regional Differences

While there are common expressions used before and after eating in Korean culture, there are also regional differences. For example, in Jeolla Province, people often say “ssook ssook haeyo” before eating, which means “let’s eat deliciously.” In Gyeongsang Province, people often say “joesonghamnida” after eating, which means “I have enjoyed the meal.” These regional differences reflect the diversity of Korean culture and the importance of regional identity.


The sayings used before and after eating can also vary depending on the level of formality. In formal settings, such as business meetings or formal dinners, people often use more polite expressions such as “kamsahamnida” (thank you) or “cheonmaneyo” (excuse me). In informal settings, such as family gatherings or casual meals with friends, people often use more casual expressions such as “mashisoyo” (it’s delicious) or “mashineun geo apseo” (I’m full).


Korean dining culture is also known for its strict etiquette rules. One important rule is to wait until everyone is served before starting to eat. Additionally, it is considered impolite to leave food on your plate or to refuse food that is offered to you. When eating with chopsticks, it is important to avoid using them to point at people or things. Finally, it is considered good manners to offer to pay for the meal or to at least offer to split the bill.

Cultural Significance

Korean dining culture has a significant cultural meaning beyond just the food itself. Sharing a meal with others is seen as an important way to build and maintain relationships. It is also considered a way to show respect for others and to express gratitude for their presence in one’s life. The sayings used before and after eating reflect these cultural values and emphasize the importance of social interaction and community.

Food and Health

Korean cuisine is known for its focus on health and balance. Traditional Korean meals often include rice, soup, and a variety of side dishes that provide a balance of nutrients. Additionally, many Korean foods are fermented, which has been shown to have health benefits such as improving gut health. The importance of balance and health in Korean cuisine is reflected in the sayings used before and after eating, which emphasize gratitude for the food and appreciation for its role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Religious Significance

Food also has religious significance in Korean culture. In Buddhism, for example, vegetarianism is often practiced as a way to avoid harming living beings. Additionally, many traditional Korean foods are associated with specific holidays or ceremonies, such as tteokguk (rice cake soup) which is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day. The sayings used before and after eating reflect this religious significance by expressing gratitude for the food and acknowledging its role in religious ceremonies.


Korean dining culture is rich with unique customs and traditions, including the sayings used before and after eating. These expressions reflect the social values of respect, gratitude, and appreciation that are important in Korean society. By acknowledging the importance of food in maintaining relationships, promoting health, and expressing religious beliefs, Koreans demonstrate their deep connection to their culture through their dining practices.

Do Koreans say grace before eating?

When eating with others, Koreans often recite a prayer before meals that acknowledges those who may not have enough to eat. It goes, “Some have meat and cannot eat, and some want to eat but cannot. But we have meat and can eat, so let us give thanks to the Lord. Bless us, O Lord, and the food we are about to receive from your generosity. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.”

What does Itadakimasu mean in Korean?

In Korean culture, it is important to show gratitude and politeness. One way to do this is by saying ‘jal meokkessumnida’ before a meal, which is similar to the Japanese phrase ‘itadakimasu’ and means ‘I will eat well’. If you are confident in your Korean language skills, this gesture can go a long way.

What do Koreans say before drinking?

Geonbae is a Korean word used to cheer or toast with drinks, which literally means “empty glass”. It is similar to the American phrase “bottoms up”.

What is Korean slang for eat?

Muk-stagram is a term coined in South Korea in the early 2010s, combining “muk-da,” meaning “eat” in Korean, and “Instagram.” It has gained popularity among the younger population, especially the MZ generation.

What do you say when receiving food in Korean?

To express appreciation for a meal in Korean, one can say “jal meogeotseumnida.” This phrase is a formal way of saying “thank you for the food” or “thank you for the meal” and translates to “I ate well.”

What do you say after eating at a restaurant in Korea?

Jal meo-geo-sseum-ni-da (잘 먹었습니다) is a phrase used to express gratitude to your host for a satisfying meal in Korean culture. If you want more of a specific side dish, you can say ____ deo ju-se-yo ( __더주세요), as many Korean restaurants offer unlimited side dishes.

In recent years, Korean cuisine has gained popularity around the world, with Korean dishes such as kimchi and bibimbap becoming more widely known. This global interest in Korean food has led to an increase in the number of Korean restaurants and food festivals around the world, making it easier for people to experience Korean dining culture firsthand.

Despite the increasing popularity of Korean cuisine, traditional Korean dining culture remains an important part of Korean society. Many Koreans still follow the traditional customs and etiquette rules when eating with others, especially in formal settings. The saying “mokhwa saram-i muk-essumnida,” which means “the host should eat first,” reflects the importance of respecting hierarchy and social status in Korean culture.

Korean dining culture is also closely tied to family and community. Family meals are an important way for families to bond and share their experiences with each other. Additionally, communal eating is a common practice in Korea, with large groups of people sharing a meal together. This practice emphasizes the importance of community and social interaction in Korean society.

In conclusion, Korean dining culture is a reflection of the social values and traditions that are important in Korean society. The sayings and expressions used before and after eating reflect gratitude, respect, and appreciation for the food and the people who prepared it. As Korean cuisine continues to gain popularity around the world, it is important to remember the cultural significance of these traditions and to appreciate the rich history behind them.

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