Although eating a lot of jjigae (soup) has decreased a lot, eating side dishes is common not only in Korean but also in Chinese and Japanese restaurants. Affordable Korean restaurants and expensive Korean food are similar. It is a culture that is inevitably overlooked even though many people consider it steamed. But in the streets of life (prevention of living), we have to change this culture first. The daily hygiene level needs to be increased to prevent the risk of infectious diseases.
'Common side dish', now stop
On May 6th, the Dong-A Ilbo coverage team observed various types of restaurants in Seoul. The quarantine authority recommended that each restaurant provide personal plates, scoops, and tongs in order to eat less food as a detailed guideline for the practice of life prevention.
In a restaurant in Gwanak-gu, Seoul, Few customers were eating instant rice cakes served in a large pot in a private bowl. Most of their spoons were dipped in tteokbokki soup. A college student, Amo, 27, said, "I usually ate without much thought, but these days, the situation seems to be so anxious." The situation is the same in another restaurant in Seongbuk-gu. When the rice was fried, several people began to spoon each other without making it separate.
A soup restaurant in Seodaemun-gu has a common seasoning container for each table. One woman took the salt on the table with a personal spoon and put it in the soup. A nearby kimchi soup restaurant put a powdered flour on the table. There were common tongs, but many used their own spoons. A college student named Amo said, “It would be more hygienic to bring sauces to one's table using a separate plate like a foreign country. Korean food are usually shared by many people,” said Kimmo, a 34-year-old office worker. “It seems impossible to make hygiene management 100%.”
'Let's go,' still a long way to go
There was also a restaurant where guests wiped the tables they went to with only wet cloths. Since there are no spoon holders, many people put spoons on napkins. However, the napkin's dust and chemicals can get on the spoon, so it's not even clean. In Gwanak-gu, there was no lid on the spoon, so the spoon was exposed to the virus. A situation in which the fine droplets of saliva of people eating can be broken with a spoon. In fact, some of the spoons had a stain that looks like Tteokbokki soup.
According to the detailed guidelines of the quarantine authorities, the user should △ minimize the time spent, △ maintain the table distance of at least 1 m, △ sit down facing each other as far as possible, and △ refrain from conversation at meals. Yet, the reality is still far from these measures.
On the afternoon of May 4th, an alley in Mapo-gu, where 10 houses were gathered, was crowded with guests ahead of Children's Day. The gap between the tables is so small that only one employee can pass it. Three or four guests sat around a circular table with a diameter of about 1m. There was a common meat tong, but some people flipped the meat with their chopsticks. The trash bin next to the table had no lid, and there were piles of toilet paper from which the guests wiped their noses or mouths. It is better to refrain from talking in the restaurant as much as possible, but the voices of the intoxicated guests have grown.
‘Attire’ also focuses on hygiene
Experts do not rule out the possibility of transmission of viruses or bacteria during a meal. When it comes to boiling food, you can feel relieved, but what about when eating a cold side dish? In particular, if you eat a side dish, the distance from the other person becomes closer, which increases the possibility of direct contamination.
Jung-sik Eom, professor of infectious medicine at Gachon University Gil Hospital, said, “It is not clear whether the food itself has spread corona19. However, when people sit around the food, it is easy to spread germs via spit."
Experts advised to eat common food on personal tableware or to serve side dishes individually in a restaurant. Professor Woo-ju Kim of the Department of Internal Medicine at Korea Daegu-ro Hospital said, “If you eat a side dish with chopsticks with a mouthful of it, there is a possibility of cross-contamination.” It is also a good idea to place a hand sanitizer in each restaurant seat. Some pointed to the need to change the way food is served. Professor Um said, “There are restaurants that serve separate meals on trays, soups and side dishes for one person to eat."