중앙데일리

The clean plate club

Take that last dumpling, please. I insist.

Apr 13,2003
The following is a tip on traditional Korean language and customs in response to a query from a Mr. Thompson, who wrote to us from Seoul:

Q. Mr. Thompson:
One habit that I’ve always seen while eating with Koreans is that no one wants to eat the last piece or bite of food. Thus, there frequently seems to be a small argument about who should get to eat that last morsel.

In the beginning, without thinking much, I used to eat it myself, but because of the custom I have become much more watchful. But often Koreans will ask me to take it because I’m a foreigner.

Why do they do that?

A. IHT-JAD:
Many Korean customs in fact have derived from food because of the country’s poor agricultural background. In old days, villagers often gathered to share meals or offerings prepared for special occasions, such as birthdays or anniversaries of the death of ancestors. Even today sharing food is considered virtuous, and a polite person encourages his guests to eat more. Saving the last scrap of a dish is a symbolic gesture of one’s generosity toward others.


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