Mouth sounds when eating

Whenever I happen to see shows or dramas were people are eating food, I notice the following comments a lot:

  • Eww, why would they smack their lips like that / make that loud noise?
  • Why do they always talk with their mouth full of food, it’s disgusting
  • I hate it when they slurp / chew with their mouth open

Growing up, I was taught that when eating, I had to chew with my mouth closed, not make any loud noises, etc.

From what I know of some cultures, it’s very normal to slurp your food or to make as much noise as you can, because it makes the food more appetizing to other people (it shows you enjoy it).

I get that some people find it disgusting, but don’t force your cultural standards on people with a different norm of what’s normal for them.


Agree, as an American, I find it horrifying, BUT my daughters bestie is Korean and they consider ti normal and acceptable. She grew up respecting each culture, for it’s own unique cultural sensibilities. Love having a balanced kid.


That’s great. Being exposed to other cultures really helps :blush:

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Respect is one thing. But I have to look away when I see it.
After all, it was the norm in Europe decades ago, of course only the low classes would do it. Slowly slowly they have learned to respect other people and don’t show the half-chewed contents of their mouth.
It’s not bad that they read such comments. The TV production companies might understand that if they want the money of international viewers they could go easy on this kind of disgusting stuff. Even if their own local audience wouldn’t mind, they won’t miss it if it’s not there.

However, from watching countless k-dramas, I have seen that in the past few years there has been a significant change in this respect. Nowadays it’s mostly the comic characters do it, or when they want to show that it’s a simple, unrefined, coarse person. You will rarely see the male lead do such a thing. The girl, sometimes, when she’s of the corresponding background, coming from a working-class family etc. And because they generally like the female leads to look clumsy, impulsive, ill-mannered and humiliate themselves, whereas the male lead is usually a refined cold chaebol, used to international travel and international etiquette.

Lastly. Some things are plain bad and it’s not a matter of respect to point them out. Like the excessive drinking, the stigma on single parents, divorcees and so on. We shouldn’t be ashamed, because of political correctness and so-called cultural respect, to point out these.
Surely smacking of the mouth, super-stuffing the mouth, speaking with said super-stuffed mouth and often spitting its contents out of surprise on the face of the person in front, are not on the same level as stigmatizing unwed mothers. But still if they gradually stopped doing it, it wouldn’t be a huge loss. And we could go back to enjoying food while watching dramas.


The Chinese fantasy and historical dramas are usually not like that. I only saw such a thing in a Chinese story of modern days, one scene with a male lead character and 1-2 other scenes with a side character who was something like a lunatic martial arts genie or so.

In the other modern dramas I watched it was similar to Western standards besides the noodle soup slurping xD

Something that seems to be a thing for Chinese dramas instead of sex/romantic scenes are scenes like that:

Saw similar scenes in other dramas too.


I don’t watch a lot of (Korean) dramas, so I can’t say much in that aspect, but in reality and cooking shows, where people eat like they normally would, I’ve seen those comments so many times.

I do have the draw the line between slurping and other kinds of sounds. Slurping actually makes you taste your food better and it’s a technique used by tasters in Europe / America as well (tea-tasting, wine-tasting, etc.).

Edit: I still don’t slurp my food, unless it’s at a tasting class or a ramen shop where all the other people are slurping.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with pointing it out, respectfully. I just think some people go too far in trying to force their standards on someone who isn’t doing anyone any harm (except maybe the people who suffer from misophonia) or say it in such a rude manner. Personally, I’ve learned to let this aspect (the food sounds) go.


Yeah, slurping is not that bad. I can live with that. Open mouth showing contents is what really makes me queasy. It was one of the reasons I dropped Waikiki 2 more quickly than I would have. (Thankfully, because it is a lame show and I would have dropped it anyway).

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I didn’t call it a phobia, but misophonia: it’s a relatively new (controversial) disorder where people have a strong psychological or emotional respond to certain trigger sounds. It happens involuntarily.

I sat through Let’s eat just fine. Like I said before, I’ve learned to let it go. There are other things I can focus on.

I can’t do that. Taste is subjective. I’ve taking tasting classes where you are required to slurp the beverage you’re tasting, and I noticed that when I do that with liquid foods, I can figure out which spices they use / the flavor profile a bit better when I’m slurping. It works for me, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. And again, I don’t slurp my food out in public, that ramen shop / tasting classes are the only exception.


I think it depends where we are and the context.
What I consider manners in my country could be considered rudeness in another country.

For Westerners, it’s polite to eat with a closed mouth.
For some (not every) Asians, it’s polite to make sounds when eating to show you like their cooking or to gnaw at bones.

If I travel in some Asian regions and I’m invited in a family, they might find strange that I don’t make sounds while eating, maybe they’d think I’m the rude one.
I would make an effort and make sounds to show the host that I appreciate the food they have prepared for me, because the way they were raised or in the regional culture, they’d think that I would be rude if I don’t show them in their culture that I like their food.
And it doesn’t harm them or me to do that, like I can do that.

Then in other countries where it’s in their culture to eat without making sounds, I’d just do that.

Could be when I say hi to people, if in another country, I have to clasp my hands or to bow a little or to call someone with honorifics or to forget about kissing cheeks or to finish my plate to avoid insulting my hosts, I’d try to adapt myself to a foreign culture when I’m traveling in a foreign country (or even eating with an Asian family in France) without crossing my own limits.


Here is an article from a student exchange program about “food culture and manners” in some Asian countries and excerpts:

In Japan:

  • Slurp, slurp and slurp! When eating noodles and soup, please do slurp, as it is a sign of how much you are enjoying your food.
  • Do NOT blow your nose on the dining table. If you need to do so, do so in the restroom, as it’s very impolite to do so during a meal in Japan.
  • Do you know how to eat sushi properly? Learn before you go because you are probably eating sushi all wrong! Only the fish side of the sushi should be dipped lightly into the soy sauce, instead of the rice, and don’t ever eat the prickled ginger with sushi, as it’s meant to be eaten separately.

:hushed: I have been dipping my sushi in the sauce the wrong way all along!!

In South Korea:

  • Chopsticks in Korea are made with stainless steel and tend to be much heavier than you expect.
  • It is a common custom to make sure that your neighbors’ drinking glass is filled up quickly after they finish it.
  • To show respect when drinking alcohol, you should face away from everyone at the table, especially the elders, using both hands to hold the drinking cup.
  • Cooking scissors are used instead of knives in Korean dinning, so be sure to use them to cut long noodles or BBQ meats!
  • Use the bell that is placed on the table to call for service! Talk about convenience.

With all this being said, don’t be afraid of making mistakes! Locals won’t be mad if you make any of the mistakes mentioned above and they will probably joke about it and teach you politely and nicely if it happens.


In dramas or shows:
The drinking habits they say for South Korea match with what I’ve watched in dramas so far.
I think dramas did good in portraying their society habits, it’s the reality, so if I were to travel in Korea, I would expect to see that in some restaurants
+Kdramas are made in Korea with Korean actors in Korean restaurants or in Korea with Korean food and they broadcast it in Korea on Korean TV channels for Koreans. So they just show what it’s like in Korea.

In the Kmovie “The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil” (I’m taking this one, because I’ve watched this movie a few days ago and I’ve remembered these scenes!!!):

  • there was 1 scene where one gang leader was eating ramyeon while slurping a lot + cops slurping while eating Korean black bean noodles (this one matches with what I’ve seen in other dramas + common for people to do that in Korea?)

  • there was 1 scene too where a subordinate’s front teeths were pulled out and the gang leader has to drink alcohol with these bloody teeths to seal a deal (by the way, wonder if it’s a Korean tradition in gangs to have some blood involved to form a contract?)

  • there was 1 scene that I didn’t understand when watching the movie, but reading the drinking culture habits, I understand now! The cop was drinking alcohol with the gang leader, his cops colleagues and other gang members. He turned his back to the gang leader to drink alcohol and just before drinking, he told the gang leader something like “Oh no, it’s not me showing you my respect.”
    And the audience in the cinema didn’t laugh at this whereas it’s a funny scene, probably because we didn’t understand this scene and there was no T/N, so you have to know a little bit of Korean culture to understand this scene.

In my culture, if I were drinking while turning my back, it would be considered rude, but in Korea, it’s the opposite!

:joy: Now, I understand better this scene. Thanks for this topic!


Are there other eating habits?

In Japan and China:
Sticking your chopsticks vertical in a bowl of rice is bad in Japan. Called tsukitate-bashi (突き立て箸), it is incredibly taboo because it reminds Japanese people of funerals, where a bowl of rice is left with two chopsticks standing vertically in the center. It’s also supposed to bring bad luck.

When my friend told me that, I stopped doing that XD

Other sources:
It’s also impolite and poor manners to use one chopstick to skew something, or as a knife. Pretend that the utensils are attached; they should always be used together.

I actually use my chopsticks to cut to avoid having more to wash or when there’s no knife.
So I’d do that at home, but in Japan, probably not :smile:


There’s a rumor going around that misophonia is ‘‘fake’’ since research is at its new stages, and very little is known about it. But I know this is an old problem that was ignored, and now it’s been studied.

‘’[The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM -5); however, it has been proposed that misophonia may be most appropriately categorized under “Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders.]” excerpt source: International OCD foundation.

I have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since I was a teenager, and it started when my mother smoke cigarettes, and my hands would bleed from washing the ashtrays over and over again every time she finished smoking a cigarette. I no longer take the pills but the moment I become OCD I start taking them again.

My aversion to the people/animals making noise when they eat started at a very early age (around 12 years old). Now I see they both are correlated, too late for me because no one understood my anger/rage towards ppl who made too much noise when they ate their food (I wanted to physically hit them to make them stop) I laugh about it now but it was a painful stage of my life. Why it took so long to do research about it?

My guess is that ppl were able to control it, like I did. If someone started making noises I got up from the table and went as far away as I could. I mainly stopped eating with ppl I knew would chew food too loud or talk with their mouth full. As much as I wanted to insult them, I bit my tongue (but definitely I did not put up with it).

I feel that no one has to follow other people’s customs. If I visit Asia, I won’t rage over their noise while eating but all they’ll get from me, is a compliment and thank you for their delicious food. You can forget about me slurping to acknowledge ‘’ --their tasty food–’’

No way in hell that would ever happen. Respect goes both way. I respect their customs, they need to respect mine. In other words, respect my OCD/misophonia. I’ll go and get some earplugs…:grinning:

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It is interesting what these days is considered as a mental disorder / disease and what’s considered “appropriate”.

I think there are way more things that could be called a mental disorder (but are actually considered as “normal” or new hyped “lifestyle”) than disliking certain kind of sounds.

About the eating habits… I think it is mostly a cultural / social thing, depending where someone is born and how someone is rose up. Then there are some individual preferences what one likes or don’t, e.g. even when one is born in a country where hand shaking is common that does not mean that everyone likes it. People should show more respect and tolerance to the individual feelings of someone.


Yes, there are other ways. Smile broadly, empty your plate, say “Oh, that was delicious, could I have some more?” etc etc. I’m sure they’ll get the message just as well.

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They are not actually turning their back. You must have seen it countless times in dramas. They just twist to the side, profile, 90° not 180°.

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Oh no, it’s because the cop was sitting next to the gang leader and not in front of him. So with this setting, he turned his back to the gang leader (if the gang leader turned to talk to the cop, he would meet his back xd :slight_smile:

I have to remember on which drama they show a drinking scene with this sign of respect.
I think I just missed the gesture until now or thought it wasn’t a Korean sign of respect until I hear the cop’s sentence that I didn’t understand in this movie (by the way, the movie got a prize in Festival of Cannes and Sylvester Stalone will do an American remake).

And ooh! I’ve wanted to know how it was in India because I remember you’ve been there!!
I’ve heard that some Indians (not every) are eating with hands their ancestral dish. Did they tell you why perhaps?


I’ve heard this one is a myth. There’s an old Japanese sushi chef who was in town for a convention and he gave a workshop. During a conversation with him about how to dip sushi (with a lot of hand gestures due to his broken English), he told our group that he’s never dipped sushi fish first and he’s never heard of it. You just shouldn’t “soak” your sushi too long in the soy sauce and in some cases the chef has already seasoned the sushi for you, so that isn’t needed.

@angelight313_168 as I know, a lot of fields in psychology are pretty recent and so many of them have controversies (as in, some research supports it and some don’t), which made studying it so frustrating :thinking:. So we always had to learn about both sides of the story, just in case. There are a lot of times when students asked the teacher why a certain topic wasn’t researched before and usually it’s because people are too focused on something else (whatever was popular at the moment, so they could get funding) or it got buried in the past.


In every house I’ve been with and in many restaurants, people eat with their hands, and I did too. It’s lots of fun. There is a difference, though. In North India you’re supposed to use a piece of chapati (flatbread) to scoop the food, and generally you’re not allowed to get food on the part of the fingers over the second joint (counting from the tip of the finger). Whereas in South India they don’t have chappati, they have rice, so they scoop using all the palm of their hand. If there is soup, they pour it over the rice and eat with the hand too. And at the end of the meal, some runny yogurt will remain, so you scoop that and lick the palm of your hand until the plate is clean. Delicious.
Of course you only use the right hand to eat, because the left hand is used (only the left) for toilet and for sex. I suppose this originated in the times where soap and water was not universally available, so it makes lots of sense. Water and soap is still a luxury to some portions of the population like slum dwellers.
To this day, I only use my left hand to clean and wash myself after toilet stuff (I don’t use toilet paper, but a little showerhead with strong water pressure and my hand), although of course I wash my hands thoroughly afterwards.
As for sounds, well, the appreciation sound in India is burping. Which, I suppose, comes pretty easy with all this heavy, rich food.


I agree. I grew up in a heavily influenced Japanese household and even lived in Japan for a few years. I never heard or was taught this about dipping sushi only fish side. The way I was taught that you only dipped the corner in and you did it quickly because it soaks in fast and you didn’t want the sauce to overpower the natural flavors.

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" * Slurp, slurp and slurp! When eating noodles and soup, please do slurp, as it is a sign of how much you are enjoying your food."

I know I may be reading into this, but just this line makes me think the writer is saying the more and louder you do it, the better. If that’s what they meant, I have to also disagree. I wonder if there is a debate in Japan about how much slurping is too much slurping lol.

It’s hard to describe how I was taught about this - it was more you copied how your parents and elders did it to figure out that line between “polite slurping” and “rude slurping.”

My grandmother (who was from Kyoto) and my mom were strict about manners like that. I remember when they watched Mr. Baseball and saw Tom Selleck eat cold noodles. They found it extremely humorous (because they weren’t actually there), but made it a point to tell me not to copy that because that was actually very rude. If no one has seen that movie - you should. Or at least that noodle scene. It is really hilarious. :rofl:

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It is hilarious the ending…Bad luck and the screams lol

I can’t believe this movie was back in 1992 my daughter was only 2 yrs old.

Which part was rude? Sticking the chopstick in the noodles? He slurped but they were not happy so I don’t understand that part.

The chopsticks was more a mistake than rude because they understood he probably didnt’ know. The slurping was comically rude because of how he slurped the noodles. Too loud and too long/much. :smiley:

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