When I stumbled upon this article stating that Korea is the only country in the world with a documented history of using metal chopsticks, I ran through the ever-growing catalogue of meals I’ve had in my lifetime, and if my own life experience is of any reference, that statement is absolutely true. I have only ever used metal chopsticks in a Korean setting.
However, I must admit that metal does not provide the best texture when it comes to using chopsticks for what they are supposed to be used for. Wooden and bamboo chopsticks provide a much dryer surface which lends itself to being able to pick things up better. But there is a method to all of this madness.
One theory states that chopsticks (젓가락, pronounced ChutKaLak) were made out of silver for the royal family during the Baekje period because the silver would turn color if the food they were eating were to contain poison. Eventually, the common public took on using metal chopsticks to seem closer to royalty themselves.
I’ve also heard a theory that suggests that Korean royalty began using metal chopsticks when meeting with leaders of other countries. These leaders would then feel inferior while dining because they are not practiced in using metal chopsticks and the Korean leaders would have a mental advantage in whatever business they were discussing. The art of war can be so petty.