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Who eats first in Korean?


Korean culture is unique in its traditions and customs, and one of the most important is the concept of eating hierarchy. In Korean society, who eats first is a significant aspect of social status and respect. Understanding this concept is essential for anyone who wants to interact with Korean people or visit Korea.

History of Korean Eating Hierarchy

The Korean eating hierarchy dates back to ancient times when Confucianism was the dominant philosophy. Confucianism emphasizes respecting elders and hierarchies, including in food consumption. This philosophy has influenced Korean culture for centuries, making it a crucial aspect of their society.

Who Eats First in Korean Culture?

In Korean society, the oldest person or the highest-ranking person usually eats first. This tradition applies to family gatherings, business meetings, and social events. The younger people or lower-ranking individuals must wait until the seniors finish their meal before they can start eating.

Why Do Koreans Follow Eating Hierarchy?

Koreans follow eating hierarchy because it shows respect for elders and higher-ranking individuals. It also helps establish harmony and order during meals. This tradition also allows for more efficient serving and dishwashing since everyone does not need to eat at the same time.

What Happens When You Don’t Follow Eating Hierarchy?

Not following eating hierarchy can be considered disrespectful and rude in Korean culture. It may offend the seniors or higher-ranking individuals, leading to a strained relationship. Therefore, it’s essential to follow this tradition when interacting with Korean people or participating in Korean events.

Exceptions to Eating Hierarchy

There are some exceptions to eating hierarchy in modern-day Korea. For instance, in Western-style restaurants or fast-food chains, people can eat whenever they want. Also, some families may not strictly follow eating hierarchy at home, especially if the age gap between family members is not significant.

Other Korean Dining Etiquette

In addition to eating hierarchy, Koreans follow other dining etiquettes. For example, it’s customary to use chopsticks and spoon when eating, and it’s considered impolite to leave food on your plate. Also, it’s expected to use both hands when pouring a drink for someone.

Korean Cuisine

Korean cuisine is famous for its spicy and flavorful dishes. Some of the popular Korean dishes include kimchi, bibimbap, bulgogi, and tteokbokki. Korean cuisine is also known for its health benefits since most dishes are made with fresh and natural ingredients.

How to Appreciate Korean Food Culture

To appreciate Korean food culture, it’s essential to understand its history and traditions. Learning about eating hierarchy and other dining etiquettes can help you interact better with Korean people and appreciate their culture. Also, trying different Korean dishes can give you a taste of their unique cuisine.


Eating hierarchy is a critical aspect of Korean culture that shows respect for elders and higher-ranking individuals. It has been passed down for centuries and remains relevant in modern-day Korea. Understanding this tradition is necessary for anyone who wants to interact with Korean people or participate in Korean events.



Who should begin eating first in Korea?

It is important to show respect to those who are older. When sharing a meal, it is customary for the oldest person to begin eating first and for everyone else to follow their lead. It is also important to match the speed of those around you while eating, neither rushing nor taking too long to finish.

Who should eat first when sitting with a Korean family?

In Korean dining etiquette, it is customary to allow the oldest person at the table to start eating before anyone else once everyone is seated for dinner. This is a traditional practice that is still observed today.

Do elders eat first in Korea?

In Korean culture, showing respect for elders is an important value that is also reflected in dining customs. It is customary for the eldest person at the table to begin eating with their chopsticks, setting the tone for the family meal.

What is the Korean eating pattern?

The K-diet consists of cooked rice (bab), soup (kuk), and a variety of small side dishes (banchan) served in one meal (bapsang), with kimchi always included. The main components of the K-diet are a high intake of vegetables, moderate to high intake of legumes and fish, and a low intake of red meat.

How many times a day do Koreans eat?

Koreans typically do not differentiate between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it is common to eat rice three times daily. Along with an individual serving of rice, a single bowl of soup may also be provided. Additionally, thicker, saltier hot pots (known as jjigae or jungol) are often placed in the center of the table for communal sharing.

Do Koreans brush their teeth before eating?

In Korea, people maintain their oral hygiene by using a set of products including toothpaste, toothbrush, and mouthwash. It is a common practice to brush their teeth after consuming coffee, snacks, or having lunch.

In addition to its cultural significance, Korean cuisine has been gaining popularity worldwide. Many Korean dishes have become trendy and can be found in restaurants all over the world. Some popular Korean dishes include Korean fried chicken, Korean BBQ, and jjigae (spicy stews).

Korean food is not just about taste but also about presentation. Korean dishes are often colorful and beautifully arranged on plates. The use of different ingredients and spices creates a unique flavor profile that sets Korean cuisine apart from other Asian cuisines.

Korean food culture is also closely tied to socializing and bonding with others. Sharing food is considered an essential part of building relationships in Korean society. Many Korean dishes are designed for sharing, such as samgyeopsal (pork belly) or gimbap (rice rolls).

In recent years, the Korean wave or “Hallyu” has contributed to the popularity of Korean food culture. K-dramas and K-pop have become global phenomenons, and many people have become interested in Korean food because of them. This trend has led to the opening of many Korean restaurants worldwide.

Overall, understanding Korean food culture is essential for anyone who wants to appreciate this unique cuisine fully. From its historical significance to its modern-day popularity, Korean food culture is a fascinating aspect of Korean society that continues to evolve and captivate people worldwide.

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