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Do Korean people show affection?


Korean culture is often regarded as reserved and formal, but do Korean people show affection? This article delves into the topic to provide a comprehensive understanding of how Koreans express their feelings towards others.

Cultural Background

Korea has a long history of Confucianism, which emphasizes respect for authority, hierarchy, and propriety. These values have helped shape Korean culture and societal norms, including how people show affection towards each other.

Expressions of Affection

While Koreans may not be as physically expressive as some other cultures, they show affection in various ways. These include gestures such as hugs, holding hands, and kissing on the cheek. They also use verbal expressions such as compliments, saying “I love you,” and showing concern for others.

Familial Affection

Family is highly valued in Korean culture, and affection towards family members is commonly expressed through actions such as spending time together, celebrating milestones, and offering support during difficult times.

Friendship Affection

Friendship is also highly regarded in Korea, and showing affection towards friends can be seen through actions such as giving gifts, offering help when needed, and spending time together.

Romantic Affection

While public displays of affection between couples may be less common in Korea than in Western cultures, romantic gestures such as holding hands, giving gifts, and going on dates are still prevalent.

Cultural Differences

It is important to recognize that cultural differences can affect how affection is shown. What may be considered normal in one culture may not be acceptable in another. Therefore, it’s essential to understand and respect cultural differences when interacting with people from different backgrounds.

Age and Gender Differences

Age and gender can also play a role in how affection is expressed in Korean culture. For example, younger people may be more physically expressive than older generations, and men may be less likely to show affection in public than women.

Personalities and Relationships

Individual personalities and the nature of relationships can also impact how affection is expressed. Some people may be naturally more reserved or introverted, while others may be more outgoing and physically expressive.

Workplace Affection

In the workplace, showing too much physical affection can be seen as unprofessional in Korea. However, expressing appreciation and gratitude towards colleagues through verbal expressions, small gifts, or gestures of kindness is common.

Impact of Modernization

As Korea continues to modernize and become more globalized, attitudes towards affection may also change. Younger generations may be more influenced by Western culture and express themselves more freely.


In conclusion, Koreans do show affection towards others, but cultural norms and individual differences can affect how it is expressed. Understanding these factors is essential for building positive relationships with Koreans and respecting their cultural values.

How do Koreans show affection?

Physical Contact: Koreans are generally not very physically affectionate with one another. However, girls and young women may walk hand-in-hand and male friends may touch one another more frequently than what is the norm amongst western men.

What are the signs of affection in Korea?

Public displays of affection (PDA) is a sin most Korean couples commit. While you should keep the steamy make-out sessions private, PDA tends to happen on the norm in Korean dating culture. Holding hands, giving a peck, or even a kiss is a usual sight.

Do South Koreans show affection in public?

In Korea, it is common for couples to avoid displaying intense affection in public. This may include avoiding passionate kissing or prolonged hugging, as such behaviors are viewed as inappropriate and distasteful in South Korean culture.

Is kissing a big deal in Korea?

Public displays of affection, such as kissing, are considered improper and immodest among older generations in South Korea. While younger adults may not view it as taboo, it is still discouraged by elders. Proper dress is highly valued in South Korean culture, seen as a sign of respect.

Is hugging acceptable in Korea?

In Korea, it is customary to greet someone with a handshake or a bow, but physical contact like hugging or grabbing hands or arms is considered bad etiquette. Hugging strangers is particularly impolite and can be very uncomfortable for the other person, especially in public settings.

Do Koreans confess their love?

For Koreans, expressing their feelings to a love interest is seen as an important step in starting a romantic relationship. The “some” stage, where the relationship is undefined, ends only when one person confesses their love and the two officially become a couple.

It is also worth noting that affection can vary depending on the context and setting. For example, public displays of affection may be more acceptable in certain locations, such as parks or tourist areas, compared to conservative neighborhoods or religious sites.

Another factor that can influence the expression of affection is the level of formality required in a given situation. In formal settings, such as business meetings or official events, it may be more appropriate to express affection through respectful language and gestures rather than physical contact.

Furthermore, the expression of affection may differ between urban and rural areas in Korea. For instance, people living in rural areas may be more traditional and reserved in their expressions of affection compared to those living in urban centers where Western influence is more prominent.

It is also important to recognize that expressing affection does not necessarily have to involve physical contact. Koreans are known for their hospitality and generosity towards others, which can be seen as a form of expressing affection towards friends and family members.

In conclusion, while Korean culture may place importance on respect and propriety, showing affection towards others is still a common practice. The manner in which it is expressed may vary depending on cultural norms, individual differences, and the context or setting. By understanding these factors, individuals can navigate social interactions with Koreans respectfully and with a greater appreciation for their cultural values.

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