Research File: Dining on the Floor

I found this article very interesting when researching further about dining on the floor and its benefits. I was looking to see if anyone had done any studies on the social benefits and I found this article, the physical health benefits. Within my degree show I wanted to bring the South Korean dining experience to the west and show its social benefits and its interesting that it can actually bring other health benefits.

Some health benefits listed:

  • Helps digestion
  • Weight loss
  • Minimises over eating
  • Increases flexibility
  • Improves posture

My reflection on dining on the floor:

On the first night in Seoul we went to a Korean BBQ restaurant. We were all taken upstairs to a large room with long low tables and cushions on the ground. The cushions were thin but comfortable. However, finding a good position was difficult, the long legged people of the group struggled. There was a Korean group dining at the same, they were sat comfortably with their legs crossed under the table. It made me realise how inflexible we were. I found sitting together on the floor at one large table an experience and it had a community feeling and a certain closeness I didn’t expect.

When visiting a palace in Seoul we learnt why they dine on the floor. The Koreans have the original form of under floor heating; Ondol. The individual buildings of palaces were raised and this is because underneath the floor is a run of corridors. These corridors are filled with smoke from baked stones which then heats the floor. They also double as ventilation in the summer as they can be opened up and keep the floor cool, the shutters on the buildings also open very wide to allow for the breeze in the summer. This system was invented because of the extreme weather conditions in South Korea throughout the seasons.

The Ondol system has been replaced by modern under floor heating in new buildings. However, it still greatly influences the culture as Koreans traditionally sit, eat, associate and sleep close to the floor. Koreans believe that keeping ones hands and feet warm and head cool is good for health.


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