중앙데일리

A custom to pore over

It takes two hands to serve wine and liquor with respect

June 06,2004
Here’s this week’s tip on Korean language and customs:

Q:
Since I arrived in Korea last year, I’ve been invited to both formal and informal social gatherings where wine is present. I’ve noticed that there is something unusual about the way Koreans drink wine: They hold the wine glass almost obsessively when someone is pouring the wine. At first, I thought this was to prevent the wine from spilling, but it seems as if the drinker “must” hold the glass with one hand as he places the other hand on his chest. Are these customs unique to Korea?

A:
Even when Koreans are partaking in Western-style social functions, they tend to follow some traditional customs ― one of which is that a drink should always be “served,” and that one should never pour one’s own. To show respect or acknowledge seniority among drinking companions, the person who pours the drink traditionally uses two hands, and the recipient holds the glass with two hands. In more casual or Western-style settings, such formality might be cumbersome, so imbibers use a subtler form of the gesture ― keeping a hand on the chest, or the forearm ― that still acknowledges the tradition of showing respect.


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