Recently, I gave some tips on what to do when you’re about to go to a Korean person’s house so you will avoid doing something that could be offensive. Today, I’m going to give a few more tips on some things to keep in mind. These tips tend to hold true if you are at a Korean or Korean American home. We pick up where we left off, you are inside the house and have just taken off your shoes.
Bowing before your elders is a show of respect. So don’t be offended if your hand isn’t shook or if people don’t dap you up when you arrive. By bowing at a respectful angle, you are showing proper manners.
Use Both Hands
If someone older wants to shake your hand, hands you something, or if you need to hand them something, use both hands to show respect. A one handed jester could come off as rude and disrespectful. Even if the person is not Korean, still use both hands. (I actually saw a kid get smacked one time for not handing me something with both hands. ) If an older person wants to show you respect by handing you something with both hands, make sure you receive it with both of your hands to be respectful as well.
Wait Before You Eat
It is respectful to allow the oldest person at the table take their first bite before anyone else does. While not to many people talk about that, it is a way to get some extra points with some older people in the family.
Watch How You Consume Alcohol
It shows extra respect to turn your head away from the oldest person at the table while drinking alcohol. If you work in Korea, you will probably see people doing this when having a lunch or dinner with their boss.
Watch Your Chopsticks
It may not seem like a big deal to you, but where you place your chopsticks can be a big deal to other people. Sticking you chopsticks straight up and down inside your rice can be a sign of disrespect to someone’s dead relatives. If you need to set down your chopsticks, look for a chopstick holder on the table, or just set them on the table.
It is considered rude to leave a Korean house hungry. A lot of time, effort and care go into Korean food. Therefore, you can really hurt someone’s feelings if you leave the dinner table hungry. Make sure you are not greedy, but that you eat enough to make the homeowner happy.
Side note: It is sometimes common to have fruit, cake, coffee and/or tea after a meal. Therefore pace yourself. That way you can share in having dessert with the family. But this is only when eating at someone’s home.
These are just a few more tips to help you be respectful when at a Korean person’s home. If you are nice and respectful, your first visit to a home will not be your last.