In Korea, many children would be scolded because of their wrong use of chopsticks. They use them like forks because using chopsticks is very difficult. Why do Koreans use chopsticks even though they feel it’s difficult to use them? Let’s talk about chopsticks.
Three Different Chopsticks
Chopsticks are tools that pick up most foods using two long and thin sticks. These are made with iron or wood. Also, these are usually used in the Eastern culture. The representative countries using chopsticks are known as China, Japan, and Korea. The three countries have the chopstick culture but the details are different. Welcome all the representatives of each chopstick!
Chinese chopsticks: Hi guys! We’re the Chinese chopsticks. In our country, people usually eat greasy food. The volume of food is big and they take food from a big table to their plates. For that reason, our body shapes are long and blunt, so it’s easy to pick up foods from a long distance.
Japanese chopsticks: Hello every one, we’re the Japanese chopsticks. Our body shapes are sharp and thin. In Japan, Japanese like fish dishes. We have thick top parts but relatively thin bottom parts to debone, tear, and cut the fish. Our body lengths are short because, in Japan, people eat meals with their own plates, contrary to China.
Korean chopsticks: Hi, we’re the Korean chopsticks. Korean people eat around the table with more than two people. Moreover, we prepare many side dishes. Therefore, our bodies have medium length compared with the other two kinds.
Features of Korean Chopsticks Culture
There is a big difference between Korea and other countries. Koreans use a spoon and chopsticks together. The Japanese also used chopsticks with spoon in the past. However, now they use only chopsticks. The Chinese use spoons when they eat soup, but they usually use chopsticks.
How to Use Chopsticks Correctly
Korean people have considered table manners as important since old times. Therefore, using chopsticks was important for table manners. They practiced it since they were children. However, Korean chopsticks are usually made of iron. It is too difficult for children to handle them. For these reasons, Edison chopsticks were invented by INP Co., Ltd. They are made with plastic so they are very light. They can help children to use chopsticks correctly. Character-drawn chopsticks were enough to attract children’s interest. Adults also can use them, as there are Edison Chopsticks for adults.
Recently, even adults can feel awkward at handling chopsticks. Thus, some teachers teach correct chopstick skills through a test of moving beans from one plate to another plate. Students practice using chopsticks for the test. Then, their chopsticks skills improve.
Looking Again at Chopsticks
Professor Kim Yong-seck in Youngsan University says chopsticks have an aesthetic element, not just functional elements. He said chopsticks are the only straight-shaped items among round-shaped cups, bowls, dishes, and spoons. There is beauty in having chopsticks on the table.
Park Yeon-ok, the representative of Good Will Solutions, held a chopstick gallery, “Jeo-jip,” meaning “chopstick pouch” in Korean. She exhibited hundreds of types of lacquered chopsticks in pouches. Park said, “I applied a Korean design to materials like wood, shell, and lacquer tree with the Joseon Dynasty period traditional lacquer technique, basically.”
In this way, many think chopsticks are a work of art, not just eating tools. Alvin Toppler, a renowned American writer and futurologist, said people who use chopsticks will rule the information-oriented age. This means that chopsticks are correlated with brain development. Many Korean people do active work in various sections inside the country and abroad. Could this be because of chopsticks?
Nowadays, China exports expensive high-class chopsticks. It contributes to their national enterprise. In Japan, there are so many chopstick materials like bamboo, ebony, and rosewood. Moreover, they have over two thousand patent technologies about chopsticks applied to body engineering.
As we can see, China and Japan think chopsticks are important. Most Koreans regarded them as just tools, but recently people have been changing their awareness of chopsticks. President Park Geun-hye gave chopsticks to Russian and Vietnamese presidents as presents.
Chopsticks don’t exist just for picking up food. These are one of the most important aspects of Korean culture. We have to remember the value of chopsticks.