The Story of Korea’s Metal Chopsticks Continues! Special Pepero Day Post

Two years ago we wrote a blog post about why Korea uses metal chopsticks. It was read by millions around the world, and shared thousands of times across social media.

The blog post looks at a few common myths surrounding the origin of metal chopsticks in Korea; the only country in the world to make their chopsticks out of steel on a mass scale. The story goes that Korean royalty in ancient times used silver chopsticks as a way of protecting themselves from enemies, as they would react to poison in food. The habit then trickled down to common people, with steel used instead of silver, as silver was far too expensive for the average citizen to be able to afford.

But the history of metal chopsticks doesn’t end there! Koreans also do not traditionally use a knife to eat. Metal chopsticks thus have a double function; the flat, hard edge of metal chopsticks allows them to be used to cut pieces of food that are too big to eat whole. Go to any Korean restaurants in Seoul or in your city and you will see many people cutting and pulling apart their cooked meat or and vegetables – especially kimchi! – with metal chopsticks.

November 11in Korea is known as ‘Pepero Day’; a commercial holiday where couples and friends gift each other with the stick-shaped snacks, Pepero. As the symbol 11/11 also looks like two pairs of chopsticks, the day is sometimes also referred to ‘chopstick day’. There is even a chopstick festival in Cheongju on this day to celebrate the country’s long history of using chopsticks.

Using chopsticks so often in daily life is sometimes said to contribute to Korean’s skills in sports that require use of the fingers, like archery. Korea has an impressive Olympic archery history. It is also said to improve the skills of Korean surgeons, who must use their fingers to control intricate tools for their work.

To celebrate Korea’s unique culture of metal chopsticks – and to commemorate Pepero Day! – we’ve launched the first World Chopstick Championships. Want to put your metal chopstick skills to the test? Click on the link to find out how! Contest closes November 29 2017.

Veronica Kang