In Korea, the rice or soup bowl is not lifted from the table when eating from it. This is due to the fact that each diner is given a metal spoon along with the chopsticks known collectively as sujeo. The use of the spoon for eating rice and soups is expected. There are rules which reflect the decorum of sharing communal side dishes; rules include not picking through the dishes for certain items while leaving others, and the spoon used should be clean, because usually diners put their spoons in the same serving bowl on the table. Diners should also cover their mouths when using a toothpick after the meal.
The table setup is important as well, and individual place settings, moving from the diner’s left should be as follows: rice bowl, spoon, then chopsticks. Hot foods are set to the right side of the table, with the cold foods to the left. Soup must remain on the right side of the diner along with stews. Vegetables remain on the left along with the rice, and kimchi is set to the back while sauces remain in the front.
Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, vegetables, and meats. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes (반찬; banchan) that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Kimchi is almost always served at every meal. Commonly used ingredients include sesame oil, doenjang (fermented bean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes gochujang (fermented red chili paste) and cabbage.
Banchan is a term referring collectively to side dishes in Korean cuisine. Soups and stews are not considered banchan.
Kimchi refers to often fermented vegetable dishes usually made with napa cabbage, Korean radish, or sometimes cucumber, commonly fermented in a brine of ginger, garlic, scallions, and chili pepper.