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What do Koreans say before eating?


Korean culture is rich in traditions and customs, including those surrounding mealtimes. One of the most interesting aspects of Korean dining etiquette is the phrases and expressions used before and during meals. In this article, we will explore the meaning behind these phrases and their significance in Korean culture.

The Importance of Food in Korean Culture

Food plays a significant role in Korean culture, as it is seen not only as a source of nourishment but also as a means of bringing people together. Koreans place great importance on sharing meals with family and friends, and many social events are centered around food.

The Significance of Saying Grace

Before starting a meal, Koreans usually say a phrase that translates to “let’s eat” or “please enjoy.” This phrase is similar to saying grace before a meal in many Western cultures. The purpose of saying this phrase is to express gratitude for the food and to acknowledge the efforts that went into preparing it.

Expressions Used During Meals

During meals, Koreans may use a variety of expressions to show appreciation for the food and to engage in conversation with others at the table. One common expression is “jal meokkesseumnida,” which means “it tastes good.” Another expression that is often used is “jalmukgesseumnida,” which means “I’m eating well.”

The Role of Hierarchy in Korean Dining Etiquette

In Korean culture, respect for elders and those in positions of authority is highly valued. This is reflected in dining etiquette, where younger or lower-ranking individuals are expected to serve their elders or superiors first. Additionally, it is considered impolite to start eating before the oldest or highest-ranking person at the table has begun.

Table Manners in Korean Culture

In addition to saying the right phrases, Koreans also place great importance on proper table manners. This includes using chopsticks correctly, not speaking with food in your mouth, and not making loud noises while eating.

The Role of Family in Korean Dining Etiquette

Korean dining etiquette also places great importance on family. Meals are often served family-style, with dishes shared amongst all members of the group. Additionally, it is common for the head of the household or an older family member to lead the meal and make sure everyone is served before they begin eating.

Regional Differences in Korean Dining Etiquette

While there are many commonalities in Korean dining etiquette, there may also be regional differences. For example, in some parts of Korea, it is customary to leave a small amount of food on your plate as a sign of respect to the host.

The Significance of Drinking in Korean Culture

Drinking alcohol is another important aspect of Korean culture, especially when it comes to socializing and building relationships. During meals, Koreans may engage in a drinking game called “ssikkek,” where participants take turns saying a word or phrase and then taking a drink.

The Role of Tea in Korean Dining Etiquette

While drinking alcohol is popular in Korean culture, tea is also an important part of dining etiquette. It is customary to offer tea to guests before or after a meal as a sign of hospitality.

The Relationship Between Food and Health in Korean Culture

In Korean culture, there is a strong belief in the relationship between food and health. Many traditional Korean dishes are made with natural ingredients and are believed to have healing properties. Additionally, Koreans often incorporate medicinal herbs and plants into their meals to promote good health.


Korean dining etiquette is a fascinating aspect of this rich and diverse culture. From saying the right phrases to observing proper table manners, there are many customs and traditions that are important to understand when dining in Korea. By taking the time to learn about these customs, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for Korean culture and build stronger relationships with the people they meet.

What do you say before and after eating in Korea?

Before a meal in Korean culture, you can express confidence in your Korean language skills and say ‘jal meokkessumnida’ (잘 먹겠습니다), which roughly translates to ‘I will eat well’, similar to the Japanese phrase ‘itadakimasu’. After finishing the meal, you can say ‘jal meogeosseumnida’ (잘 먹었습니다) to indicate that you have eaten well and are satisfied.

How do you say Bon Appetit in Korean?

If you are proficient in Korean, you can use the phrase ‘jal meokkessumnida(잘 먹겠습니다)’ before a meal, which is similar to the Japanese ‘itadakimasu’, and means ‘I will eat well’.

Do Koreans say grace before eating?

In Korean culture, it is customary to say ‘Jal-mukkes-seub-nida’ before eating, which translates to ‘I will eat well’ or ‘I will enjoy this meal’. This is a way to show gratitude and respect for the food and the person who prepared it, similar to saying grace, ‘Bon appetit’, or ‘Itadakimasu’ in Japanese. It is a simple gesture of thanks for the nourishment that is about to be received.

What is Korean slang for eat?

Muk-stagram is a term coined in South Korea in early 2010, which combines the Korean word for “eat” (muk-da) and “Instagram.” It is gaining popularity among the younger generation in South Korea, particularly the MZ group.

What do you say when receiving food in Korean?

To express gratitude after a meal in Korean, you can say 잘 먹었습니다 (jal meogeotseumnida), which means “thank you for the food” or “thank you for the meal.” It is a polite and formal way of showing appreciation and can be translated to “I ate well.”

What is Mani Mogo in Korean?

The phrase “mani mogo” in Korean roughly translates to “eat up! eat a lot!” and can also have a hospitable tone similar to “hope you like it!” or “make yourself at home!”. It is equivalent to saying “guten appetit!” in German.

In recent years, Korean cuisine has gained popularity around the world. Many Korean dishes, such as kimchi and bulgogi, have become well-known and beloved by people from different cultures. As a result, more people are becoming interested in Korean dining etiquette and traditions.

However, it is important to remember that Korean dining etiquette is not just about following rules or saying the right phrases. It is also about showing respect for others and building relationships through shared meals. By understanding and practicing Korean dining etiquette, visitors can show their appreciation for the culture and create positive experiences for themselves and those around them.

Furthermore, Korean dining etiquette is not limited to formal or traditional settings. Even in casual settings, such as eating at a street food stall or having a picnic with friends, Koreans still observe certain customs and manners. For example, it is customary to offer food or drinks to those around you before beginning to eat.

Overall, Korean dining etiquette is a reflection of the values and traditions that are important in Korean culture. By embracing these customs and showing respect for others at the table, visitors can not only enjoy delicious food but also gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Korean culture.

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