Thursday, March 31, 2011


One aspect of Korean culture I haven't developed much etiquette for is Korean drinking culture.

I know some of the rules but (from lack of experience) fail to be mindful of them when I'm out...

First, the younger person should always pour for the older person, while touching their left hand to the arm pouring. You have to constantly check the glasses of the people older than you so you can fill them when they're empty. When taking a drink, you should turn your head away from your elders so they don't see you taking a drink. And, if someone offers you a drink, it's very rude to refuse, which has been a problem for me many times.

Actually, in my precepts, I was almost surprised to see that the fifth precept was altered to leave room for a bit of drinking. It was done because completely abstaining from alcohol in Korea could cause even more social problems than having a little. If you're manager takes you out drinking (hoe-shik) and you're not a very good drinking-buddy, it might even keep you from getting a promotion or something like that...

One of the side effects of this is that by early Friday evening, the streets start to fill with staggering drunks, and for the rest of the weekend, you really have to watch your step, or you might step in whatever snack someone had with their booze.

The thought once crossed my mind about what the relative proportion of people starving in the North is to people wasting their supper in the South?

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