One of the "culture shocks" that most non-Koreans who visit Korea is sharing dishes and Koreans passing food to each other with the same spoon or chopsticks they were using to eat.
Koreans are used to sharing food. We have a culture of sharing even one bite. Such a culture may be a heartwarming scene but in terms of hygiene, it's questionable and cannot be overlooked as merely affection or bonding. Particularly so during a global pandemic time like we're currently in.
According to a recent paper published in the 'Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal' by The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (The CDC), simply sharing plates and cups can increase the risk of infection of the new COVID-19 by three times. The research was conducted on 221 patients and 839 control groups living in Thailand.
The initial purpose of the study was to identify how effective mask-wearing and handwashing were in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Also, specific actions were studied to find out what would increase the possibility of contracting the virus.
The results showed that those who share plates or cups with others were 2.71 times more likely to develop the COVID-19 infection.
The research team stated, "The possibilities of such an infection is more likely to occur in a household than other spaces such as workplaces. Covid19 patients should live in separate rooms at home and use utensils and bathroom supplies separately."
Similar studies have been conducted in China, the epicenter of the COVID19. As a result, it was confirmed that up to 250 times more bacteria were detected in the food when each person moved the foods to their plate using their own chopsticks rather than using separate utensils to move the food.
In particular, the saliva that is on the chopstick can even spread gastritis, stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, and hepatitis B.
Due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, people are now given the stink-eye when they are seen using their own spoons to dip into a shared stew pot. As a result, the younger generation is looking for 'one-person' restaurants where they can eat alone in private.
It has now become a point in time when the dining culture of Korea is changing because of the COVID-19 as many are pointing out these variables.
It seems that now is the time to establish a new standard for a food culture as the national interest in dining culture is affected by COVID-19.