Prepare the Yoga Pants and Tylenol: Staff Dinners in Korea

In Korea, it’s common for there to be staff dinners (or hwaeshiks) in which a vital part of work relationships are formed over food and drink. Unlike back home, where there are the dreaded Christmas parties once a year to attend, these happen every couple of months.

Many speeches and bottles of soju or beer later, everyone feels a lot closer. It’s common for the principal or vice principal to come around to each staff member and do a shot with them.

Proper shot etiquette is to hold your shot glass in both hands while they pour. Then knock it back in one go using both hands while turning your head slightly sideways, and give the same glass back to them so you may pour a shot which they may down in the same manner.

And it’s not just the drinks that come in plenty: Koreans are obsessed with side dishes, small samplings to taste alongside the main meal (which usually is some form of communal soup or barbecued meat).

For the scale of this, before and after shots are needed.



This is a many (many) course meal which begins slow as you wait crouched like tigers around the agonizingly slow cooking meat, and then suddenly seems to speed up far too quickly. One minute you’re stuffing your face with the first taste of sizzling pork, and the next the waiters are bringing soups, steamed eggs, rice, salads… So a word to the wise: pace yourself.

After the meal, even though bloated and feeling like all you’re capable of doing is rolling down the sidewalk, it’s time for noraebang, aka karaoke. I’m usually quite lucky and can go home early at this point to attend to my food baby, but I’ll often come to school the next day to witness tired coworkers nursing their hangovers with small paper cups of tea.

So what do you think of Korean coworker parties? I’ve been noticing a lot of views from people all around the world (hello!!), so I’m curious – how does it compare in your countries?

Until next time!

7 thoughts on “Prepare the Yoga Pants and Tylenol: Staff Dinners in Korea

  1. Those staff dinners can get pretty crazy! They can be fun, but if they’re on a Sunday night, everybody’s still expected to be at work Monday morning on time. The song rooms are great but you’re everybody’s drunk by then and there’s still more alcohol at the noraebang! I’ve had fun, but also terrible terrible hangovers.

    I’m not sure about other countries but I do know that Japanese companies do similar types of dinners.


    1. Yeah it’s definitely all about the communal drunkenness! And man is it impressive how they can hold their alcohol. In Japan too, so I’m not surprised if they have these dinners too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right! Haha!! It’s always fun to read about other teachers here in Korea. I can learn something new or add my own experiences and hope they help! Keep up the good work! I look forward to reading more of your blog 🙂


  2. I love how you share the culture with us. And that food looks so fresh & delicious.
    (Note to self: stop reading Marta’s articles when hungry)


      1. SIX POSTS containing references, pictures and comments about food. Even when i read your posts at midnighti get hungry just looking at the dishes. I come home from a Hard Days’ Night and get inspired by your posts to cook supper.
        YUM your posts


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