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Who pays for dinner in Korea?


In Korean culture, meals are a big deal. Eating together is seen as an important way to build relationships, and sharing food is a way to show respect and care for others. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the issue of who pays for dinner can be a sensitive one. In this article, we will explore the various factors that influence who pays for dinner in Korea.

The Importance of Meals in Korean Culture

Before diving into the topic of who pays for dinner, it’s essential to understand why meals are so important in Korean culture. For Koreans, meals are about more than just sustenance; they are a way to connect with others and show respect. It’s common for Koreans to share dishes family-style and take turns serving each other as a way to demonstrate care and generosity.

Traditionally, the Oldest Person Pays

In Korean culture, age is highly respected, and older people are often viewed as wiser and more deserving of respect. As such, it’s traditional for the oldest person at the meal to pay for everyone’s food. This practice is known as “gae-sae” and is still observed by some older Koreans today.

The Host Often Pays

When inviting someone out to eat, it’s customary for the host to pay for the meal. This practice is known as “dutch pay,” and it’s a way for the host to show hospitality and gratitude for their guest’s time and company.

Splitting the Bill is Becoming More Common

As Korea becomes more modernized and globalized, splitting the bill has become more common among younger generations. This practice is especially prevalent among friends who are around the same age or have similar financial situations.

Business Dinners Have Their Own Rules

When it comes to business dinners, the rules around who pays are more complicated. In many cases, the person with the highest status or rank will pay for everyone’s meal as a way to demonstrate their power and generosity.

Social Status Can Influence Who Pays

In Korean culture, social status is important, and it can play a role in who pays for dinner. For example, if a boss and employee go out to eat together, it’s expected that the boss will pay for the meal as a way to show their authority and care for their subordinates.

Gender Can Also be a Factor

In some cases, gender can also influence who pays for dinner. Traditionally, men were expected to pay for their female companions’ meals as a way to demonstrate chivalry and respect. However, this practice is becoming less common as gender roles shift and more women enter the workforce.

Regional Differences

It’s important to note that the rules around who pays for dinner can vary depending on where you are in Korea. For example, in some regions, it’s customary for everyone to split the bill evenly regardless of age or social status.

Communication is Key

With all these different factors at play, communication is essential when determining who pays for dinner in Korea. It’s important to be clear about expectations and to discuss who will pay before arriving at the restaurant.

Etiquette Tips

When dining in Korea, there are several etiquette tips to keep in mind. For example, it’s considered rude to start eating before the oldest person at the table has begun. Additionally, it’s customary to pour drinks for others rather than yourself.


In conclusion, who pays for dinner in Korea can be influenced by many factors, including age, social status, gender, and regional differences. While traditional practices such as “gae-sae” and “dutch pay” are still observed, splitting the bill is becoming more common among younger generations. Ultimately, communication and respect are key when dining in Korea, and it’s important to be aware of the various customs and etiquette tips that can help you navigate this important aspect of Korean culture.

Who pays for the meal in Korea?

Traditionally, the host is responsible for covering the cost of the meal, although it is customary for both parties to engage in a friendly debate over who will pay. Additionally, it is considered good manners for the guest to extend an invitation for a future dinner as a way of showing appreciation.

Who pays in Korean culture?

In a social setting where someone has invited others to dine together, it is customary for the inviter to pay for everyone’s meal. However, it is still considered polite for others to offer to pay. If only two people are dining together, it is often expected that the younger person will pay for the older person.

Who pays for the wedding cost of the bride and groom in Korea?

Traditionally in Korea, it is the responsibility of the groom’s family to cover the expenses of the wedding, including the venue, food, and other associated costs. The bride’s family typically covers the cost of her wedding dress and any other smaller expenses.

Do people split the bill in Korea?

In South Korea, it is common for the older person to pay for the meal when out with someone younger. Even among friends at casual dinners, splitting the bill is not the norm.

Do Korean men get paid for mandatory service?

In South Korea, all young men are required to serve in the military for around 18-20 months. These conscript soldiers receive a salary of 510-680 thousand South Korean won in 2022.

Do Korean guys pay for dates?

The traditional belief is that the man should pay for the first date and all future dates. It is not common for the woman to pay for subsequent dates as long as the couple is together.

It’s also worth noting that tipping is not customary in Korea. Rather than leaving a tip, it’s more common to simply pay the bill in full. Additionally, it’s important to remove your shoes before entering a traditional Korean restaurant or someone’s home. This practice is a sign of respect, and failing to do so can be seen as rude or disrespectful.

Another aspect of Korean dining culture to keep in mind is the use of chopsticks and spoons. Unlike in some other Asian countries, it’s common to use both chopsticks and spoons together while eating in Korea. The spoon is typically used for soup or rice dishes, while the chopsticks are used for everything else.

If you’re unsure about who should pay for dinner or how to navigate a particular situation, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from a local or someone familiar with Korean culture. They can provide valuable insights and help you avoid any cultural faux pas.

Overall, sharing a meal with others is an important part of Korean culture, and it’s an opportunity to build relationships and show respect. By understanding the customs and etiquette involved, you can fully embrace this aspect of Korean culture and create meaningful connections with those around you.

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