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  • Characteristics of Traditional Food
  • Traditional Meal Table
  • Table Manners
  • Kinds of Korean Food



A formalized meal table consisting of rice and side dishes is served in diverse combination.  The main meal was called by different names according to status of person sitting at table, i.e. the term Surasang was used for king, Jinjisang for adults and elders, while Bapsang was used for juniors or subordinates.  A table prepared for one person is called Doksang or single table while that for two persons is named Gyeomsang.  Single tables were divided into 3-dish, 5-dish, 9-dish and 12-dish tables, depending on the number of side dishes served.  Here, the side dishes were dishes excluding rice, soup, kimchi, stew and sauce (e.g. soybean sauce, hot pepper paste or vinegared hot pepper paste).


Of these, 3-dish table was for the masses who had limited availability of food materials, while 5-dish was enjoyed by those who had better provisions.  7-dish table was for bride and groom in a middleclass family and 9-dish table was the best meal affordable in an upper class family.  12-dish table was arranged in royal court but 12 dishes was, in fact, a minimum and more dishes could be served.  


Food items composing each type of meal are as shown on the attached table.  In determining side dishes, our ancestors made efforts not to duplicate ingredients, and also considered the color and nutrition of food.  Today it may not be necessary to stick to the old principle, however, at least it is worth reflecting the disposition of food on table.