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Do Koreans hug as a greeting?


Korea is a country that has a unique culture that sets it apart from other countries. One of the things that many people may wonder about Korean culture is whether they hug as a greeting. In this article, we will explore this topic in detail to help you understand how Koreans greet each other.

Korean Culture and Greetings

Koreans have a unique culture that is deeply rooted in respect and hierarchy. In Korean culture, age and social status play an important role in how people interact with each other. Koreans often bow as a sign of respect when greeting each other, especially when meeting someone for the first time.

Physical Contact in Korea

Physical contact is not common in Korean culture, especially between strangers or those who are not close friends or family members. It is not common to see people hugging or kissing in public, and it may be considered inappropriate behavior.

Handshakes in Korea

Handshakes are becoming more common in Korea, especially when meeting business partners or foreigners. However, it is important to note that Koreans may not always initiate a handshake, and it is best to wait for them to offer their hand first.

Bowing as a Greeting

Bowing is a traditional Korean greeting that shows respect and honor towards the person you are greeting. The depth and duration of the bow may vary depending on the age and social status of the person you are greeting.

Hugging among Friends and Family

While hugging is not common in formal situations, it is becoming more popular among close friends and family members in Korea. Younger generations are more likely to hug as a way of showing affection towards each other.

Cultural Differences

It is important to understand that cultural differences exist between countries and even within regions of the same country. What may be considered appropriate behavior in one culture may not be acceptable in another. It is important to respect and understand cultural differences when traveling or interacting with people from different cultures.

How to Greet Koreans

When greeting Koreans, it is best to follow their lead and show respect towards their culture. A simple bow or handshake is often sufficient in formal situations. If you are meeting friends or family members, a hug may be appropriate if they initiate it.

Body Language and Communication

Body language plays an important role in communication in Korea. Koreans pay attention to facial expressions, tone of voice, and body posture when communicating with others. It is important to maintain eye contact and show respect towards the person you are communicating with.

Respect for Elders

Respect for elders is an important value in Korean culture. Younger generations are expected to show respect towards their elders, and this may be shown through a deeper bow or more formal language when speaking.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity is important when interacting with people from different cultures. It is important to recognize and respect cultural differences and avoid making assumptions or judgments based on one’s own cultural background.


In conclusion, Koreans do not typically hug as a greeting, especially in formal situations. However, hugging is becoming more common among close friends and family members. It is important to follow Korean customs and show respect towards their culture when interacting with Koreans. Understanding cultural differences and showing cultural sensitivity will help to build positive relationships with people from different cultures.

Is hugging acceptable in Korea?

In Korea, it is customary to greet someone with a handshake or bow, but physical contact such as hugging or grabbing arms is considered impolite. Hugging strangers is particularly frowned upon and may cause discomfort, especially in public settings.

How do Koreans greet people?

In Korean culture, it is customary to say “안녕하세요?” while bowing slightly when greeting others. This phrase can be used to say “Hi, hello, good morning/afternoon/evening” and is interchangeable. When greeting friends or someone younger than you, you can shorten the phrase to “안녕?”

Do Koreans hug on the first date?

When dating in Korea, it’s common for partners to refrain from showing intense affection in public. In South Korea, displays of passion such as deep kissing and prolonged hugging are seen as inappropriate and distasteful in public settings.

Do Koreans show affection?

In Korean culture, physical affection between individuals is not common. However, young women may hold hands and male friends may touch each other more frequently than in Western cultures.

What is considered flirting in Korea?

In Korean culture, flirting is similar to what is portrayed in Korean dramas, using charming and endearing language to appeal to the person they are interested in. In addition to sweet talk, they also flirt by displaying a cute persona, known as aegyo.

Is kissing in public ok in Korea?

Public displays of affection, such as kissing, are considered inappropriate and disrespectful by older individuals in South Korea. Although younger generations are more accepting, it is still discouraged by elders. Dressing well is highly valued in South Korea as it is seen as a sign of respect.

Korean culture is also known for its emphasis on collectivism, where the group and its harmony take precedence over individual needs and desires. This is reflected in their communication style, where indirect language and nonverbal cues are used to avoid direct confrontation or causing offense. Koreans value humility, modesty, and self-restraint as virtues and may be uncomfortable with overt displays of emotion or self-promotion.

In Korean business culture, building relationships and trust is crucial before any deals can be made. Face-to-face meetings are preferred over phone or email communication, and small talk and socializing are important in establishing rapport. Business cards are exchanged with both hands and a slight bow, and it is important to address people by their formal titles until given permission to use their first names.

Food is also an important aspect of Korean culture, with meals being seen as a time for socializing and bonding. Korean cuisine is known for its emphasis on balance, with dishes often incorporating a variety of flavors, textures, and colors. Sharing food is common, with dishes being placed in the center of the table for everyone to enjoy.

Korean culture has a rich history and traditional art forms such as music, dance, and painting continue to be appreciated today. Traditional Korean music includes instruments such as the gayageum (a stringed instrument) and the janggu (a drum) and is characterized by its use of pentatonic scales. Korean dance often incorporates elements of nature and spirituality, with performers wearing colorful costumes.

In conclusion, while hugging may not be a common greeting in Korean culture, there are many other customs and traditions that make this culture unique. Understanding and respecting these customs can help build positive relationships with Koreans, whether in business or social settings.

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