Which Side Does Soup Go? Korean Soup Etiquette Explained

This placement reflects the traditional way in which Koreans enjoy their meals, with rice being considered the main focus and the soup serving as a flavorful accompaniment. The positioning also allows for ease of eating, as most Koreans eat their meals with a spoon and chopsticks. By having the soup on the right, it’s conveniently located for easy access with the spoon, while the left side is left free for the rice and other dry dishes. So, the next time you're enjoying a Korean meal, take note of the careful arrangement on the table, and savor your delicious soup on the right to fully immerse yourself in the Korean dining experience.

Do Koreans Eat a Lot of Soup?

Soups play a significant role in Korean cuisine, and it’s safe to say that Koreans do eat a lot of soup. It not only adds flavor and depth to the overall dining experience but also provides nourishment and comfort.

Soups often include a variety of ingredients, such as vegetables, meat, seafood, and tofu, which provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. These nutrient-rich soups contribute to the overall well-being and health of individuals.

It’s believed that consuming soup helps maintain balance and harmony within the body and promotes good digestion. Moreover, soup is seen as a way to express care and hospitality towards loved ones.

There’s a wide variety of soups available, each with it’s unique flavors and ingredients. From the iconic and hearty Kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) to the comforting and nourishing Seolleongtang (ox bone soup), there’s a soup to suit every palate and occasion.

Lastly, the way soups are served alongside rice and other banchan (side dishes) further emphasizes their crucial role in Korean meals. It’s common for Koreans to scoop a spoonful of soup onto a spoon containing rice, creating a harmonious blend of flavors. This combination of soup, rice, and various side dishes creates a well-rounded and satisfying dining experience.

They not only offer nutritional benefits but also possess cultural and traditional significance.

When it comes to dining etiquette, Korea takes a slightly different approach from Western meals. In Korean dining, rice takes it’s place on the left side, while soup is positioned on the right. Additionally, the placement of utensils varies with the spoon located on the left and chopsticks on the right. These nuances reflect the cultural intricacies of Korean dining traditions.

Is Rice on the Left or Right in Korea?

In Korean cuisine, the arrangement of a meal is distinct in comparison to a typical Western dining experience. One notable difference lies in the placement of rice and soup. Unlike Western meals that are often served in courses, Korean meals feature rice on the left and soup on the right. This unique layout is a testament to the importance of rice as a staple food in Korean culture.

In addition to the positioning of the meal components, the utensils used also follow a specific arrangement. The spoon, an essential tool for consuming rice and soup, is placed on the left side of the plate, while the chopsticks rest on the right. This setup reflects the traditional Korean dining etiquette and ensures easy access to the necessary utensils.

This distinct arrangement of food and utensils isn’t limited to traditional Korean dining settings.

By maintaining this arrangement, Koreans continue to honor their culinary heritage and celebrate the essential roles of rice and soup in their meals.

Source: While in Korea


This arrangement stems from traditional Korean dining etiquette, which emphasizes the balance of flavors and textures in a meal. Additionally, having the rice on the left side not only signifies it’s importance as a staple food but also serves as a neutral palate cleanser between bites of flavorful dishes.

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