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Can you hug in South Korea?


South Korea is a country with a rich culture and traditions that are deeply ingrained in its society. One of the most intriguing aspects of South Korean culture is their approach to physical contact, particularly hugging. In this article, we will explore whether or not hugging is acceptable in South Korea and why it may or may not be.

South Korean Culture

South Korea has a collectivist culture where the emphasis is on the group rather than the individual. As a result, people tend to be more reserved and less physically affectionate in public.

The Role of Age and Gender

Age and gender play a significant role in determining whether or not hugging is acceptable in South Korea. For example, younger people are more likely to hug each other, while older people tend to avoid physical contact altogether.

Personal Space

South Koreans value personal space and tend to keep a distance from others, especially strangers. This can make it difficult for foreigners to understand the boundaries of physical contact.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences between South Korea and Western countries can lead to misunderstandings when it comes to hugging. Some South Koreans may feel uncomfortable with hugging due to cultural differences, while others may be more open to it.

Family Dynamics

Family dynamics also play a role in determining whether or not hugging is acceptable. In general, families tend to be more physically affectionate than strangers or acquaintances.

Workplace Etiquette

In the workplace, physical contact is generally discouraged, especially between superiors and subordinates. This is due to the hierarchical nature of Korean society.

Social Customs

Social customs such as bowing and shaking hands are more commonly used in South Korea than hugging. These customs have specific rules and protocols that are important to follow.

Romantic Relationships

In romantic relationships, physical contact is more acceptable, but even then, there are rules and expectations that must be followed. Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon.

Religious Beliefs

Religion can also play a role in determining whether or not hugging is acceptable. Some religions promote physical contact as a form of connection, while others discourage it.

Changing Attitudes

As South Korea becomes more globalized and exposed to Western culture, attitudes towards physical contact may be changing. Younger generations may be more open to hugging and other forms of physical contact.


In conclusion, whether or not hugging is acceptable in South Korea depends on a variety of factors such as age, gender, cultural differences, family dynamics, workplace etiquette, social customs, romantic relationships, religious beliefs, and changing attitudes. While hugging may not be as common in South Korea as it is in other countries, it is not necessarily taboo. It is important to be aware of cultural differences and to respect the boundaries of personal space.

Do they hug in South Korea?

When someone in a service role greets you or receives something from you, they may put their hands together in front of their chest as a sign of appreciation. People who come from Korea but live in other countries often hug or kiss each other as a casual way of saying hello to friends.

Is kissing in the public ok in South Korea?

Public displays of affection, specifically kissing, are viewed as inappropriate and immodest by older generations in South Korea. Although younger adults are more accepting of this behavior, it is still not widely accepted among elders. In South Korea, it is important to dress well as it is seen as a sign of respect.

Can you show affection in Korea?

In Korean dating culture, public displays of affection (PDA) are common, despite being considered a sin by some. While more intimate acts should be kept private, holding hands, giving small kisses, and other forms of PDA are commonly seen.

Is it normal to be touchy in Korea?

In Korea, physical touch is not commonly used as a form of affection, except for hand-holding among girls and young women and more frequent touching among male friends compared to western culture. Personal space is not highly valued in Korea.

What is considered flirting in Korea?

In Korean culture, flirting is similar to what is portrayed in Korean dramas, where individuals use romantic and endearing phrases to capture the heart of their love interest. In addition to verbal flirting, acting cute or “aegyo” is also a common tactic.

What is the age difference between marriage in Korea?

In South Korea, individuals who are over 18 years old (males) or 16 years old (females) may get married with their parents’ or guardians’ permission. If they do not have this permission, the age of consent for marriage is 20 in Korean age (or 19 in international age). This is also the age of consent for sexual activity.

It is also worth noting that hugging may be more common among close friends or people who have developed a strong relationship over time. In these cases, hugging may be seen as a sign of affection and closeness rather than a breach of personal space.

Another factor to consider is the location or setting. For instance, hugging may be more acceptable in informal settings such as at a party or gathering with friends. On the other hand, hugging may be less appropriate in formal settings such as business meetings or religious ceremonies.

Moreover, it is important to remember that South Korea has a complex and diverse society with different regional cultures and traditions. Therefore, attitudes towards physical contact may vary depending on the region or community.

Overall, it is crucial to approach physical contact with sensitivity and respect when interacting with people from different cultures. While hugging may not be universally accepted in South Korea, taking the time to understand cultural norms and expectations can go a long way in building positive relationships and avoiding misunderstandings.

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