While the Internet in general is known for being a bottomless cauldron of hate, nothing quite gets Japanese netizens seething like South Korea.
Case in point: the Japanese Internet is raging over a video of a young South Korean woman eating instant noodles because she has bad table manners.
The video is actually part of a promotional series for Shin Ramyun instant noodles in which members of Korean girl group T-ARA share their favorite home recipes. The clip in question features member Park Ji-yeon, who divulges that she prefers to stick with the orthodox recipe and proceeds to show viewers how to prepare Shin Ramyun according to the directions on the package.
From about 0:50, the video pans to Ji-yeon sitting down to eat her finished meal when suddenly, for reasons unexplained, she removes the lid of the pot with one hand, plunges her chopsticks directly into the pot with the other, lifts up a mass of noodles and plops them down on the overturned lid as if it were a plate before transferring them into her cute little mouth.
Finally, as if to add insult to injury, while sharing her thoughts about the taste with viewers, Ji-yeon grasps her chopsticks firmly in hand and drives them into the cutting board, presumably to keep them aligned before returning for another barbaric bite from her primeval lid-plate.
This, ladies and gentlemen, was enough to raise a furor among Japanese net users, who wasted no words in bashing Ji-yeon for her “disgusting table manners,” while others expressed a renewed appreciation of Japanese manners. One of the current top comments is supported by 15 “likes” for saying that “eating straight from the pot like this is worse than beggars going to receive their food rations.”
Unsurprisingly, many seem quick to condemn Ji-yeon’s eating style as indicative of South Korean manners in general, though there are a few who point out the futility of criticizing other cultures, but that Ji-yeon should be more conscious of how her status as an international pop idol reflects on South Korea’s image.
Upon asking a Korean acquaintance about the video, we were told: “Using the lid of a pot as a plate? Sure, we do it all the time; it helps keep the dishes clean. Both guys and girls do it, but I only eat like that when I’m eating by myself.”
One insightful YouTube user pointed out that using the lid of the pot as a plate is a common way of eating “misonikomi udon” noodles in Nagoya, but then again, the lids of the earthen pots in which the dish is prepared are made to be eaten from.
In any case, while it’s true the video is anything but a paragon of etiquette, for god’s sake, the girl is eating instant noodles, not caviar. And we can’t help but think that Ji-yeon being South Korean has something to do with all the hate—it’s hard to imagine a promotional video of Kelly Clarkson eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the pot being met with the same reaction.