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Are South Koreans strict?


South Korea is a country known for its strict laws and cultural traditions. From strict regulations on public behavior to academic pressure from a young age, South Koreans often face high expectations and intense scrutiny from society. But just how strict are South Koreans? In this article, we will explore the various aspects of Korean culture that contribute to its reputation for strictness.

Historical Context

To understand the roots of South Korean strictness, it’s important to look at the country’s history. Korea has a long tradition of Confucianism, which emphasizes respect for authority, hierarchy, and education. These values have shaped Korean society for centuries and continue to influence Korean culture today.

Educational Pressure

One of the most visible examples of Korean strictness is the intense focus on education. From a young age, Korean students are expected to excel academically and prepare for competitive entrance exams. This pressure can lead to long hours of studying and high levels of stress among students.

Workplace Expectations

South Korean workplaces are also known for their strict standards. Employees are expected to work long hours and maintain a high level of productivity. Socializing with coworkers outside of work is often seen as important for building relationships and networking.

Social Etiquette

Koreans place a strong emphasis on social etiquette and proper behavior. This includes bowing as a sign of respect, using formal language with elders or superiors, and adhering to strict rules about public behavior (such as no eating or drinking on public transportation).

Cultural Hierarchies

Korean society is also structured around hierarchies based on age, status, and occupation. This means that younger people are expected to show deference to their elders, and those in lower positions must follow the lead of those in higher positions.

Gender Roles

Traditional gender roles also play a significant role in Korean society. Men are often expected to be the breadwinners and hold positions of power, while women are expected to prioritize their family responsibilities.

Religious Influence

Religion also plays a role in Korean strictness. Christianity and Buddhism are the two most common religions in South Korea, and both emphasize the importance of morality and discipline.

National Security

South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea, which means that national security is a major concern. This can lead to strict regulations on public behavior and surveillance of potential threats.

Government Control

The South Korean government also has a reputation for strict control over its citizens. This includes censorship of media and the internet, restrictions on protests, and strict laws around drug use and other crimes.

Changing Attitudes

Despite its reputation for strictness, South Korean culture is changing rapidly. Younger generations are challenging traditional gender roles, pushing back against educational pressure, and demanding more freedom of expression.


In summary, South Korean strictness is influenced by a variety of factors, including historical traditions, cultural values, religious beliefs, and national security concerns. While strictness can have its benefits (such as high levels of productivity), it can also lead to stress and social pressures. As South Korea continues to modernize and evolve, it will be interesting to see how these factors continue to shape its culture.

Are Koreans strict with time?

Koreans are generally punctual and efficient with their time. However, in certain situations, this behavior may be perceived as impatience.

What do South Koreans think of Americans?

The Pew Research Center found that 84% of South Koreans have a positive opinion of the United States and Americans, ranking it among the top 4 countries worldwide. Additionally, a Gallup Korea poll revealed that South Korea views the U.S. as the most favored country globally.

Is South Korea safe for girls at night?

South Korea is a fantastic destination for female travelers as it boasts a low crime rate, making it safe for women traveling alone or in groups. Although the country is generally safer than most, it is still important to take precautions. Avoid walking alone, particularly in popular areas such as Hongdae, Gangnam, and Itaewon.

Is the Korean school system strict?

South Korea’s education system is renowned for producing top-performing students, but it is also known for being rigorous. Students typically spend extended hours, up to 12-16 per day, either at school or in a supplementary program called a hagwon.

Is kissing in public allowed in South Korea?

In South Korea, kissing in public is considered inappropriate and frowned upon, particularly by older generations. While younger adults are becoming more accepting of it, it is still discouraged by the elderly. Dressing well is considered an important aspect of showing respect in South Korean culture.

What do Koreans call America?

The Korean word for “America” is “miguk.” It’s worth noting that the United States provided assistance to South Korea during the Korean War before the country was divided into North and South.

Technology and Social Media

South Korea has one of the highest rates of internet and smartphone usage in the world, and this has had a significant impact on its culture. Social media platforms like KakaoTalk and Instagram have become popular ways for young people to connect and express themselves. However, this increased access to technology has also led to concerns about addiction and cyberbullying.

Mental Health

The pressures of Korean society can take a toll on mental health, leading to high rates of depression and suicide. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, and more resources are becoming available for those struggling with mental health.

Food Culture

South Korea is known for its delicious cuisine, but even food culture is subject to strict rules. For example, there are specific ways to eat certain foods (such as wrapping meat in lettuce leaves) and certain foods are only eaten at certain times of the year. There is also pressure to maintain a healthy diet and body image.

Plastic Surgery

South Korea has one of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world, with procedures ranging from eyelid surgery to jaw reshaping. While some see it as a way to conform to beauty standards, others view it as an extreme form of pressure to look a certain way.

Clothing and Fashion

Korean fashion has gained popularity around the world, but even clothing choices can be subject to strict standards. School uniforms are mandatory in most schools, and there are expectations for how to dress in professional settings. There are also beauty standards when it comes to hair and makeup.


Overall, South Korean strictness is influenced by a complex web of cultural, social, and political factors. While some aspects of strictness can be seen as positive (such as respect for authority and productivity), it can also lead to pressure and stress. As South Korea continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how it balances tradition with modernity, and how its culture adapts to changing attitudes and values.

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