And we’re back with our TL;DRs! Couldn’t do them for a while because we were in Japan for a bit, but we’re back, now, and talking about more stuff that you ask us to talk about. This time, Korean Table Etiquette. Sounds like a boring topic, but we had some fun talking about it. Here’s the original question:

TLDR Question

Also, we mentioned the crappiness of that bad video we did from long time ago. Yes, we’re embarrassed that our videos were like that before, and we’d rather not watch it, but if you haven’t seen it then you have no clue how bad our videos used to be, though our focus and method was different back then :D We’re a lot more comfortable on camera now. Anyhow, check it out if you haven’t seen it yet:


So, we add a bit more to what we talked about in this video. We gave a few examples, like try giving out chopsticks and tissues to others, be prepared for a different style of buffet eating, and just generally trying to be as considerate of others in a meal-sharing environment as possible.

We did get a hint of one other rule/suggestion from Soo Zee when we spoke with her about it today, but she was a bit iffy about the details because she wasn’t too sure about it, since she’s not in a typical business setting. She mentioned that there’s typically a seat at a table where the people that pay for the meals usually sit. It’s not, like, the head of the table, but it’s something like to the left of the door…or something. She wasn’t sure. We then began to joke about how if this was the case we’d all run into the restaurant and dive into the seat as far the hell away from the paying seat as possible, and we’d all be scrunched up on each other like “NO YOU’RE CLOSEST! YOU PAY!” But then we got distracted and started talking about something else, so that’s all the info we can give you about the crappy money seat as possible. If anyone knows anything about it, or if you have any other stories about confusion you had with Korean table etiquette, please let us know!

  1. LOL I guess I pass food out and take care of others before me just naturally. I went to a yakinikku-ya and I left hungry because I cooked and passed out all the meat, soup, rice, etc. to everyone and left little to nothing for me. Woops.

  2. awkward story time!
    I once went to lunch with all the school staff and was sitting next to the VP. I don’t usually drink but he kept saying “one shot~!” Being younger, and at the bottom of the school totem pole, I thought ‘hey, I should do as he says’ and I downed the glass, much to the surprise of everyone at the table. My mentor teacher’s eyes got so big, and he later told me that when drinking with superiors, you’re not suppose to do one shots.
    I don’t know if this had anything to do with my age (college student), gender (female), province, or something else but I found that odd. No one had warned/told me anything like that before..

  3. I notice a lot of Koreans have taken up being vegetarian these days. Some inflexible adults might think it weird, but who cares? It might not be easy, though. I have a few vegetarian colleagues, and when we go out for meals, quite many restaurants wouldn’t have any dishes without meat. If someone invites you for a special meal or if there is a meal in your honor, though, you should let them know in advance that you’re a vegetarian in order to avoid awkward situations.

  4. They don’t really interact with their neighbors, especially those who live in apartments in the urban areas like Seoul; at least that’s what my Korean students tell me. Most of them don’t know their neighbors’ names or faces. But if they do know them, they sometimes nod or greet them, especially when they meet in the hallway or in the elevator.

  5. Hey, guise! I have a question for TL;DR. I’m afraid it’s not light hearted but I think it’s relevant. How is South Korea dealing with the North Korea’s crazies lately? Is it actually scary or is it just talk? I’m curious (and worried!).

  6. hey this article lists South Korea last on the female “glass ceiling” issue most advanced countries face, martina what was it like working as a female teacher in South Korea, and do you guys notice any distinct sexism? or is it not different from canada/the US, in that while its not perfectly equal yet, there isn’t a huge issue (for most jobs).

  7. TLDR Question;
    Here in America some people have gages or plugs in their ears. Do korean people also have these and would someone be looked down upon if they had these?

  8. Hey, Guys. We are moving to Korea this summer with our 1 1/2 year old baby. Do you have any tips for living in Korea with a baby/children? (convenience of using strollers/car seat usage/family friendly activities/things to pack/differences from North America) Thanks!

  9. I wonder if anyone else has issues with when to use chopsticks vs. a spoon…

    For example, I was eating lunch with a Korean friend yesterday and I had bibimbap! So, as advised by my co-teacher the other day, I started struggling to mix it all up with my chopsticks (because a spoon will “break the vegetables”?) And he took it from me and mixed it with a spoon for me. And then! I started eating it with chopsticks.. it’s all clumpy and not so hard to do.. But then he laughed and said that me eating the bibimbap with chopsticks would be the equivalent of someone using a knife to eat their food instead of a fork in a western meal.

    • Bibimbap from Jeonju is famous, and Jeonju people mix theirs with chopsticks! :) So I’d say no.. though I’ve never seen anyone actually eat the bibimbap with chopsticks. I eat regular rice with chopsticks cuz I just got used to doing so since childhood, but I’ve noticed that everyone else eats their rice with spoons. Nobody pointed that out to me, though. Maybe eating rice with chopsticks is accepted because the japanese do so.

  10. Hey-O Martina & Simon! I was planning to do a trip to Seoul/ Tokyo in the fall, but with all the crazy political stuff going on I am a bit nervous. Here in the US, they’re really hitting on the growing tension between the N. Korea & S. Korea (read: & the world) in the news, but I’m not sure of how much of it is just media hype/ exaggeration. I know you guys don’t do a lot of “political”-ly TL;DR stuff, but what is your opinion on how big of an issue this is (and should be) for N. Americans wishing to travel there in the coming months? p.s. Sorry about the winded question!

    *Special shout out to the Spudgemeister and Meemersworth!*

  11. GU JUN PYO <3 boys before flowers!!!!!! thats an awesome drama

  12. It’s been a decade since our family loved to canada. when my lil sister was having a birthday party, mom brought a plate full of fruit with bundle of forks by the side. One of my sis’s friend looked at it funnt, saying that it’s unhygienic to eat from the same plate….lol.

  13. Your hoodie’s really cute.

  14. When you first moved to South Korea did you ever feel you were out of place? Like, did you feel left out from your school because you were foreigners. If you ever felt you were being racially abused whether from your colleagues at that time or strangers on the street? I know theres racial abuse in every country but I wanna know how is it differently handled in South Korea compared to North America.

  15. :O Your grilling meat comment reminded me of Big Bang. Hahaha.

  16. I would say that I’ve never had too many bad experiences with my Korean roommates when we lived together, or when I went to Korea to visit them last summer at the table. I think everything you guys mentioned is correct–turning while drinking, making sure your glass is not above someone who is older than you, etc. As for eating food, I would say even more so, I’m not sure if this is just my experience, but often times we don’t even have a ladle to pour the soup into our bowls. We just ate directly from the middle bowl of food no matter what it was. I’m not a very squeamish person when it comes to sharing food with others, so I don’t care, but I know that many foreigners might feel weird sharing food like that–especially people from the US. Ah there are some differences, I just remembered one, a lot of Korean people don’t care about masking the sounds of chewing food at the table. I was taught from a young age that I had to never make any nose while I chewed on food, and to always keep my mouth closed, but it seems like a lot of my Korean friends do make a lot more noises while they eat than I’m used to. If you’re all silent, you can hear them making smacking noises. I think now though, I got used to it, but I remember when it first happened my Japanese friend and I commented to our close friends asking them why they made so much noise while they ate–I wouldn’t recommend asking people you’re not close with though….

  17. Here is a question related to Korean dramas/K-pop and international fandom.

    How aware are Koreans of the huge craze for K-pop and K-dramas from non-Koreans? Some people are a little less surprised post “Gangnam Style”, but in my experience many Koreans are always super surprised that I LOVE Korean dramas and K-pop. There is also a GIANT online community of bloggers, tweeters, commenters, and international fans who are constantly conversing about K-drama and K-pop. I guess I ask because it seems to me that the Korean entertainment industry seems to want to break more into the North American scene (and non-Asian international scene too), but don’t quite seem to realize how big it already is. I think you sort of pointed this out before from the BEAST MV “Beautiful Night” where they hired people instead of using their fanbase. I know some companies are starting to realize it (like LOEN putting English subs on their MVs, and YG has English customer service on their webstore), but is there a way to let Koreans and the Korean entertainment agencies realize just how HUGE the international fandom is?

  18. lol i remember that video!! wow, that’s so long ago now!!!! I still remember the story of Simon smacking his arm, while in Canada! makes me laugh every time I imagine the cashier’s face!!

  19. i just find this particular caption funny lol “you do dot the break johnnie brown” *pushes simon

  20. Yes! What did you think of Bread, Love and Dreams?

  21. Here’s a TLDR question for you. How common are orthodontic braces among Korean teens and preteens? A lot of Korean celebrities seem to have either really crooked teeth or have really obvious veneers. It made me curious why more don’t (or didn’t) get braces. Are braces something that just aren’t common in Korea? Thought you two might have insight on this, since you’ve worked with this age group. Thanks!

  22. Slurping: It’s ok to slurp in Korea. But deliberately making loud slurping noise would be viewed as unpolished.

    And I smell a kdrama segment in near future….

  23. i know your only children are meemers and spudgy but in the future could you do reviews on places in korea that are kinda child friendly i plan to travel to korea one day and currently have a 1yr old daugher :)

  24. Martina are you wearing circle lenses?

  25. [TLDR] Q:How does the Korean Age System Work? -I know you +1 to your age, BUT sometimes they +2…-


    • Korean assumes that you are one year old on birth. Then, you get older by a year on the new year’s day. For example, my birthday is December 18. Consequently, I am 2 years older than my “Western” age from January 1 to December 17. Then, from Dec 18 to Dec 31 (for two weeks!) I am 1 year older than my “Western” age. That’s why :-)

      * I seldom see Korean use “year” to count baby’s age. Like many parents in North America, they use “month”

      • So I’d be a year older than my “western age” for two whole days! I’m a December 29th baby ^^ For the most part, I just consider myself a 93 child because I only have those two days separating me from being a 93 child anyway haha

  26. I’ve only personally seen a couple of “haters” of sort, and she’s on my friends list who had someone agree with her. She stated that they are “Koreaboos,” but this is the same girl who has no actual (or at most, faint) interest in the country, constantly says “Oppa/oppar,” and pines over idols in an inappropriate manner. Ah well. You can’t please everyone, and often times these people are irrational and therefore not worth the time to respond to – like “thisisjustforfunval” stated.

  27. What’s is the difference between Western/North American schooling? I’m still a student in the U.S. and I’m thinking about being an exchange student there, so I was wondering what should I take in consideration?

  28. Are you going to bring back WTF *Wonderful Treasure Find* anytime?

  29. They have haters out there. I have unfortunately run into blogs and tumblrs that are just chalked full of EYK haters. Those people get under my skin but I’m the bigger person so I just ignore them and comeback here where it is so full of love. I can’ understand why people waste so much time and energy hating. I rather devote that effort to things I love like Eli’s thighs…uhm I mean U-KISS.

  30. Hi Simon and Martina, what is the average Korean view on foreign music, or foreign musicians promoting in Korea?

    Do Koreans really look down on non-Asians in the KPOP music scene, and is it true that Korean entertainment companies won’t take a non-Asian?

    • Hi, I know I’m not S&M, but from what I’ve learned, Korean trainees are usually middle-schoolers and high-schoolers who look to the idol life as an escapism from school (which I’m sure we all know how demanding and tough it is in most Asian countries with 9+ hours of school); therefore, when people from other asian countries come to the companies as trainees, they tend to get mistreated and disrespected by the korean trainees, in order to get them to quit and increase their chances of debuting. Of course, not all korean trainees probably are like this, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t happening.

      So, I hope this kinda answers your question, but if it doesn’t, it gives some insight on what’s really behind a trainee’s life.

  31. I thought this was going to be about soup slurping or some such. Noodle soup at my parent’s house is so noisy.

  32. Well this question is more based on what you said in one of the Tokyo videos. That it is a faux pas in Korea to eat alone. I am looking at going to Korea for a vacation, but a tour group might be too expensive while I could probably manage to fly there and crash in a cheap hotel (and don’t know anyone interested in going to Korea or who has the money to go with me).

    Will they really look at me like some sad person and am I better off heading to Japan/Tokyo where it is more accepted (instead of having to take food to my room or ordering in or whatever) or is it somewhat accepted to be on your own and travel and eat places.

    I am a 6’2″ dude with long blonde hair so I will probably get more than enough attention so I don’t want the added attention of “oh look at him eating alone; shun him SHUN HIM!!” So I am really wondering if it is cool or if I should somehow try scrape together money to get in that group tour or otherwise head over to Japan.

  33. So…Martina. I know you wanna send one of those hoodies my way. 8D
    But seriously though, that thing is amazing. Did you get it in Japan? I’m pretty sure I saw some in one of Micaela’s videos. :D

  34. Being maknae sounds exhausting.

  35. Here’s a TL;DR Question! How do you call for a taxi (when public transportation stops running at night)? Are there certain ways to do it compared to North America? Or are they the same?

  36. lol I play clarinet and out section is like almost all Korean and we used to get kbbq together and I was like whoa meat grilling. I made the guys do it but I guess it’s okay because I’m older than many of them thanks for that tip !

  37. Oh. This reminds me of something I saw on tumblr.
    Would the way Baekhyun is calling people over be considered rude?

  38. I hate it when people pay for me, because then I feel like I have to order the cheapest thing on the menu, even if I would be willing to spend my own money to try out something else. If someone else insists on paying for me I usually end up going home hungry because I felt like I couldn’t eat their money.

    • In genral I have always had one person pay for group meals even here in the U.S. and I got to a certain age where I just started buying every group meal so I wouldn’t feel weird about what I was ordering and the price and everything else.

  39. What about the big glass trend? Is it fashionable over there?? Or is all glasses comes in that way in Korea?

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