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Do Korean couples hold hands in public?


Korean culture has always been fascinating to outsiders. One of the many things that people wonder about is whether Korean couples hold hands in public. This article aims to answer that question and provide a comprehensive understanding of Korean dating culture.

Cultural Context

In Korea, physical contact between couples is not as common as it is in Western countries. Koreans are known for their conservative attitudes towards public displays of affection (PDA). Holding hands is considered a more intimate form of physical contact and is usually reserved for more serious relationships.

Religious Influence

Korean culture is heavily influenced by Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of respect for elders, social hierarchy, and modesty. These values are reflected in the way Korean couples behave in public.

Gender Roles

Gender roles also play a significant role in Korean dating culture. Men are expected to take the lead and initiate physical contact, while women are expected to be more passive and demure.

Age Matters

Age also plays a crucial role in determining whether Korean couples hold hands in public. Younger couples are more likely to engage in PDA than older couples, who tend to be more reserved.

Location Matters

The location also affects whether Korean couples hold hands in public. In busy areas like Seoul, where there are lots of people around, couples may feel more comfortable holding hands. However, in smaller towns or more traditional areas, PDA may be frowned upon.

Social Acceptance

Despite the conservative attitudes towards PDA, Korean society has become more accepting of physical contact between couples in recent years. This is partly due to the influence of Western culture and the spread of K-pop and K-dramas around the world.

Dating Culture

Korean dating culture is unique in many ways. For example, couples often celebrate several relationship milestones, such as 100 days, 200 days, and 1 year. These celebrations are called “baek-il” and are often marked with gifts and special dates.

Body Language

Korean couples tend to express their affection through subtle body language rather than overt displays of physical contact. This can include things like leaning into each other, touching arms or shoulders, or gazing into each other’s eyes.

Public Perception

While attitudes towards PDA are changing in Korea, there is still a stigma attached to it in some quarters. Couples who engage in PDA may be seen as disrespectful or even immoral by some members of society.


In conclusion, while Korean couples may hold hands in public, it is not as common as it is in other countries. Cultural, religious, and social factors all play a role in determining whether couples engage in PDA. However, as attitudes towards physical contact continue to evolve in Korea, it is likely that we will see more couples holding hands and engaging in other forms of PDA in the future.


– Kim, H. Y., & Lee, S. H. (2019). Public display of affection among South Korean college students. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 50(1), 59-73.
– Kim, J., & Kim, J. (2016). A study on the relationship between Korean romantic comedy dramas and Korean tourism industry: Focusing on Japanese female tourists. Journal of Tourism and Leisure Research, 28(7), 129-144.
– Lee, M., & Kwon, H. (2019). The impact of K-pop on the global entertainment industry: Why is Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ a massive success?. Journal of Business Research, 100, 476-483.

Can couples hold hands in South Korea?

In Korean dating culture, public displays of affection (PDA) are often seen as inappropriate or sinful. However, it is common for couples to engage in small gestures of affection such as holding hands, giving a peck, or even a kiss in public.

Do South Koreans show affection in public?

In Korean dating culture, it’s common for couples to refrain from showing excessive affection in public. South Koreans view intense displays of affection like passionate kissing and prolonged hugging as distasteful and unsuitable for public settings.

Do Korean couples kiss in public?

Public displays of affection, particularly kissing, are frowned upon and considered inappropriate by older generations in South Korea. While younger adults are more accepting of such behavior, it is still discouraged by elders. Dressing well is a significant aspect of Korean culture and is seen as a sign of showing respect.

Do Koreans hug in public?

While hugging norms are shifting, in Korea, it is typically reserved for romantic partners or close friends and family members who are bidding farewell for an extended period of time.

Is physical touch common in Korea?

Koreans do not usually show physical affection towards each other, but it is more common for girls and young women to hold hands and male friends to touch each other. Additionally, personal space is not as closely guarded in Korea compared to Western countries.

How do Koreans flirt?

In Korean culture, flirting is similar to what is portrayed in Korean dramas, where romantic, sweet, and cute phrases are used to woo the person of interest. In addition to verbal flirting, Koreans also use aegyo (애교), or acting cute, as a way to express their affection.

Modern Dating Trends

While traditional Korean dating culture remains prevalent, modern dating trends have emerged in recent years. One of these trends is online dating, which has become increasingly popular among young Koreans. Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble are widely used, and many couples meet through social media or online forums.

Challenges Faced by Couples

Despite the changing attitudes towards PDA, Korean couples still face challenges in their relationships. One of the main challenges is the pressure to conform to societal expectations. Many Koreans feel that they must follow a certain path in life, including getting married and having children by a certain age.

Impact of Western Culture

Western culture has had a significant impact on Korean dating culture in recent years. Many young Koreans are influenced by Western ideals of romance and love, which can clash with traditional Korean values. For example, some young Koreans may want to express their affection through physical contact but feel constrained by societal norms.


In conclusion, Korean dating culture is complex and multifaceted. While conservative attitudes towards PDA remain prevalent, modern dating trends and changing social attitudes are gradually reshaping the way Koreans view romantic relationships. As Korea continues to evolve and become more globalized, it will be interesting to see how dating culture evolves along with it.

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