I got to Seoul, Korea on Sunday evening. Interesting place so far! Somewhat Japanese culture, but different.
The person hosting us in Korea, Hun Sik, took the group of about 8 of us to a traditional Korean Barbecue restaurant. First, let me describe Korean Barbecue; The restaurants have long tables and rather low chairs. The tables are filled with small bowls of various items. Black Bean sauce, Kimchi (a somewhat spicy fermented cabbage dish), lettuce leaves, peppers, etc. They bring several grills to the table and then your choice of meat (our group ordered Pork). You then cook the meat at the table along with onion slices and garlic. When the meat is done, you grab a piece off the grill, place it on a lettuce leaf, add a bit of whatever else you want (Kimchi, Garlic, Black Bean sauce, onion) wrap it up, and pop the entire thing in your mouth. No plates.....just make it and eat it! Honestly, I made a terrible mess compared to the Koreans. It was social eating at it's finest. Some of the sides were rather vinegary for my taste, but the meat and other items were pretty good.
Drinking seems an important part of the social occasion. The most popular drink is Soju. Soju is a rice-based alcohol, stronger than wine but not as strong as liquor. You drink it from shot glasses and there is a LOT of toasting throughout dinner. Soju has very little taste, actually. I can take it or leave it, but it is loved by the locals and they drink it in mass. The bottles are about the size of a beer bottle or slightly bigger and we must have had 15 over a 2 hour dinner. Here is a link to Wikipedia on Soju: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soju
I've got a few other interesting pieces of info to share, but I'll post seperately...time to get to work!