Do you know that South Korea is a homogeneous country? There are only 3% of foreign residents! It tells us that South Korea has a strong cultural identity. Westerners indeed have some freedom from the strict rules of etiquette observed in South Korea. However, to make the best impression and ensure positive relationships in the future, the people you interact with will appreciate the effort you put into adapting and conforming to Korean culture. Because of that, you need to learn the rules of etiquette. For that reason, we put together a little guide to Korean etiquette. Keep scrolling down to discover the information that will be useful when traveling to South Korea.
Why are there important etiquette rules in South Korea?
South Korea is a relatively small nation. It is a country where manners and respect are very serious on any occasion or reason. In South Korea, there are rules for practically everything, and knowing them is an advantage that will help you if you intend to spend a season in South Korea. We are talking about a country that is still very conservative and whose rules you can not ignore because if so, it would cost you a social shame that is impossible to erase. Remember that etiquette and protocol exist in all cultures. But when it comes to oriental culture, there are significant differences. Knowing these differences will make your experience in South Korea more enjoyable.
Korean dress code
When it comes to dressing up, it is necessary to remember how hard Koreans go to great lengths on their image. So when it comes to getting dressed, the best thing to do is to put effort into your outfit, even if you are going out for coffee. You should take more time to wear something decent and pretty. Otherwise, it is disrespectful to yourself and others.
If you are a woman, be careful: do not wear low-cut shirts or expose your chest! It is very daring and disrespectful. However, you can wear short skirts, dresses, and shorts. If you are wearing a skirt or shorts, make sure you have something to help cover your legs when you have to sit down. Also, avoid wearing leggings as pants. In Korea, leggings are an accessory when wearing a dress, skirt, or long shirt. A tip for men is not to remove your shirt in public and take care of your facial hair.
Korean business dress etiquette
Korean professionals prefer to wear conservative and functional clothing in the office. Men prefer to wear a dark suit and tie. Although foreigners can wear facial hair, among Koreans it is considered dirty and unprofessional.
For women, a conservative outfit is the best option. Women can wear heels to work and dinner. In general, they can wear them anywhere in public. Both men and women should be subtle about jewelry and accessories.
It is because South Korea is a nation that believes that less is more in this sense. Avoid wearing piercings and tattoos. Those are still not accepted in Korean society, in less informal settings. If you want to know more about how to dress in the office and wear Korean fashion, visit the Korean Fashion Trends blog by clicking here.
The skincare routine is practically a must
You already know that Koreans are obsessed with taking care of their image. Looking good is a requirement in Korean society. Because of that, it is significant to have beautiful and well-groomed skin.
Most girls and guys have a skincare routine that they stick to every day, even if they don’t go anywhere special.
Girls and boys alike are not afraid to try collagen masks designed to brighten, smooth wrinkles, and make their skin healthier overall. As long as your skin is well cared for, you will be a positive draw for everyone.
Korean eat and drink etiquette
Do you know that food and drink are a big part of Korean social interactions? Korean hosts are always happy to introduce their food and culture to foreigners. Because of that, when you are in Korea, many people will encourage you to try various dishes.
You should accept every suggestion and offer with enthusiasm. The reason? Refusing to try something could be disrespectful.
When you are in a Korean restaurant, take into account the following recommendations:
- Remember to serve others before you.
- Take your shoes off when entering most restaurants, observe other guests and take notes from them to help inform the correct way to behave.
- Be respectful of the food and the establishment. Complement the food that guarantees it instead of criticizing other dishes.
- Be aware of gestures made with cutlery, especially chopsticks.
Korean etiquette when talking
At social gatherings, feel free to have a little conversation. It can be about sports, television shows, and food as safe topics. Refrain from criticizing everything related to Korea, and specifically Korean culture. Stay positive throughout the interaction.
Koreans are very nationalistic and proud of their country. Showing interest in their culture by asking questions is also a good icebreaker. Note that very personal questions are often asked in initial introductions – don’t be offended, answer what feels comfortable.
Other rules that cannot be absent from the guide to Korean etiquette
- Public displays of affection between couples, such as kissing or hugging, are not as infrequent as in the past.
- If you are on your birthday and invite many friends, remember that it is the birthday boy who pays the bill.
- In Korea, this gesture is well-known as “Give and receive” is very important. When someone is giving you something, it is rude that you only receive it with one hand. Use your two hands to receive it.
- When you are drinking with friends, you should not serve the drink yourself, but wait for the other person to serve, and vice versa. You should also not drink if you are in front of someone older. You have to turn your head to the side to drink in front of someone older than you. In that way, you will show your respect for them. Also, you should never refuse someone else’s drink. If you don’t want it, you can kindly ask for a glass of water.
This guide to Korean etiquette will help you not only to learn cultural facts. Also, it will help you to know how you should behave properly if you ever visit South Korea. Do you think a Korean protocol and etiquette rule was missing from this guide? Let us know in the comments! And remember to visit us every day!