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Korean chopsticks cultural

With the rise of the Korean Wave, Korean food culture has gradually become a topic of concern. The so-called food culture not only refers to food but also includes food space, food tools, diet etiquette, and many other aspects. Historically, eating tools are products of the era that reflect the history and culture of countries and cultures. From the era of the Three Kingdoms, the Korean tableware used has established a unique cultural system in Korea with its unique shape and material characteristics.

Chopsticks are also used in China, which is geographically adjacent to South Korea, but the chopsticks referred to here are not only a dietary tool, but also reflect the social and cultural characteristics of the country of use. Although both Korea and China use chopsticks, the material of Korean chopsticks has been made of metal since ancient times. Despite the inherent chopsticks culture, people in the Western cultural circle still think that the chopsticks culture belonging to the Oriental Culture Circle is similar.

Therefore, in order to promote Korean food culture, it is necessary to study the chopsticks in the tableware. This kind of research is based on the food culture and eating tools of Korean Confucianism and the cultural characteristics of chopsticks to reveal the institutional and universal nature of Korean food culture in the 21st century.

Korean cultural environment and food culture

1.1 Korean social and cultural environment and food culture

The eating environment is based on the natural environment and is developed under the influence of political, economic, cultural and other social conditions. The food culture of Korea has experienced the Three Kingdoms, Goryeo and Korean eras, and has been changing with the changes in the background of the times. It was not until the late Three Kingdoms that there was a distinction between staple food and non-staple food.

By the time of the Joseon Dynasty, the inherent form of food culture was established. Korean tableware culture is closely related to soup culture. South Korea is dominated by hot, moist, moist foods, so use spoons when eating hot porridge and soup, and like to put the soup in the middle, everyone needs to eat together, so you need a long spoon. The bowl used in Korea is made of copper, which has the characteristics of heavy and heat conduction. It is very inconvenient to lift when eating. This can also be seen as one of the reasons for the development of Korean tableware culture.

Dietary culture can change with the history, terroir, religion, culture, and environment of a country, and is directly related to the use of dietary tools. Understanding the food culture of a country can also be seen as an understanding of the history and culture of the country. It is in this environment that South Korea has formed an intrinsic food culture that is different from other countries.

1.2 History of Korean and Chinese chopsticks

Dietary tools are used as food props for eating and are closely related to eating and drinking and reflect the Korean food culture. The representative food tools in Korea are chopsticks and spoons. The change of the two is the result of the influence of Chinese food culture on Korean food culture. The use of spoons and chopsticks is considered to be one of the important features of Korean food culture.

The two families of the Joseon era used chopsticks made of a combination of copper and lead, while the royal family used silver chopsticks to measure whether the food was toxic. It is speculated that the spoon was used since the time of the ancient Joseon Dynasty, and the chopsticks were used after being unearthed from the Tomb of Wuning in Baekje. According to the time, the chopsticks are used after the spoon. Therefore, we can know that the combination of spoon and chopsticks began from the Three Kingdoms period.

South Korea not only uses spoons when drinking soup but also uses spoons when eating and uses them separately. This has something to do with Chongru thought. Spoons and chopsticks are somewhat different in shape or texture to distinguish family members from those used by others. Chopsticks are mainly used in Chinese meals, and soups are eaten with long soup spoons. Compared with South Korea, China used chopsticks earlier.

From the relics of a small number of chopsticks during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, it can be inferred that chopsticks are not commonly used in daily life. During the Warring States period, the word “箸” appeared, and it can be seen that wood products or bamboo products have been used at that time.

Since the beginning of the use of chopsticks, the shape of chopsticks is basically the same. In the Tang Dynasty, spoons and chopsticks were widely used. At the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty, cereals were eaten by hand, and spoons were gradually used. The use of rice as a staple food was more than that of spoons, and the chopstick-centered dining method was gradually formed.

The material and shape of the tableware are greatly influenced by the diet culture. The first chopsticks unearthed in China were made of wood or bamboo, while the chopsticks unearthed in Korea were not made of wood, all made of metal. South Korea is also the only country in the country that uses chopsticks to date using metal chopsticks.

In China, the use of spoons is gradually decreasing, and the use of spoons and chopsticks during eating has gradually become a habit in Korea. Therefore, it can be known that the use of spoons is as important as chopsticks on Korean tables.

Korean chopsticks and cultural system

2.1 Food Culture and the Characteristics of Hanzhong Chopsticks

From a functional point of view, chopsticks are a transport tool that delivers food to the mouth. Korean chopsticks are derived from China’s “箸”, which is relatively late compared with spoons, and the history of change is closely related to the development of food culture. The use of metal chopsticks in Korea has a certain relationship with the consumption of soup foods. From this point of view, compared with the use of wooden chopsticks in other countries, Koreans use metal chopsticks for some reason.

Everyone has their own designated chopsticks that are related to Korean spiritual worship. Especially when the spoon and the chopsticks touch the mouth, they will come into contact with the saliva associated with the human soul, so the spoons and chopsticks used by the family and others are absolutely different.

The principle that South Korea has pursued since the Han Dynasty is the principle of “the key to the key”, which is the result of the influence of Confucianism. In addition, Koreans like to use silver chopsticks or other metal spoons and chopsticks because they feel that this can detect food toxicity and prevent food poisoning. This design is not only practical but also a product that takes into account the safety of the entire nation.

Since Chinese food is eaten in the middle of the table, the shape of the chopsticks is long and the range of activities is wide. In addition, Chinese food is fried as a majority. Eating with a spoon will eat the oil together in the mouth. Not only will the taste be affected, but it is also not convenient to use the spoon when the food is large.

Therefore, Chinese chopsticks are generally longer and thicker. The material is mainly wood, and there is no specific requirement for the use of chopsticks. After the Tang Dynasty, along with the daily routine of drinking tea, the use of soups was greatly reduced while the consumption of soups was gradually reduced.

2.2 Cultural particularity and universality of chopsticks

From a cultural point of view, the universality and particularity of world culture are like the two sides of a coin. No matter which society is in which era, the perspective of modern cultural phenomena as a universal phenomenon plays a leading role. While this cultural phenomenon is universal, it also presents its own particularity with different cultural circles.

Many modern tools and cultural styles adopt a special nature to reflect universalism and then achieve a comprehensive effect through the universal reflection of specialism. For example, when the cultures of Korea and China, which are based on rice, are compared with the Western diet, the two countries share commonalities.

However, from the respective table of the two countries, the shapes of chopsticks and spoons reflect their respective forms. Inherent cultural system. Although the cultural exchanges between Korea and China have been long-lasting and influenced by each other, their respective cultural systems are still formed because of their different attributes and natural and cultural environments.

When the use of chopsticks in the Toyo Culture Circle is compared with the use of the Western Culture Circle fork, it can be used as a community of wisdom between China and South Korea. When using chopsticks, more than 30 joints such as fingers, palms, wrists, and elbows, and more than 50 muscles will move at the same time. At this time, the amount of exercise is doubled compared with the use of Western forks.

In addition, since the nerves in the joints and muscles that are moving at the same time are directly related to the cranial nerves, in modern society, in addition to the eating tools, people also regard chopsticks as a tool for exercising the nerves of the brain.

In modern chopsticks culture, the reproduction of traditional forms and materials is regarded as an important performance factor. It is also important to make a fresher interpretation of chopsticks culture from a modern perspective based on an accurate understanding of traditional culture. The universality and institutional duality of chopsticks culture include both “universalism to reflect particularity” and “specialism through universality”, which can be compared with Western and natural factors. And so on.


This article focuses on the cultural environment and food culture of Korea, the history of chopsticks culture in Korean food culture and the characteristics of chopsticks, and the cultural particularity and universality of chopsticks. Through the analysis of the commonality and difference of the chopsticks culture jointly owned by Korea and China, the following findings on the institutional nature of Korean chopsticks culture were obtained:

First, the Korean food culture is formed under the influence of the natural environment and the social and cultural environment. Among them, chopsticks, as one of the important tableware, occupy an important position in the food culture.

Second, through the form and material of chopsticks on the Korean table, you can see the characteristics inherent in Korean food culture. Korea, which is centered on soup culture, has a similar proportion of chopsticks and spoons. Its metal-based characteristics are the biggest difference from other countries that use chopsticks. Third, in the era of multiculturalism, it is also necessary to reproduce the inherent characteristics of Korean chopsticks culture while putting it in a universal tool culture.


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