website free tracking Do people shake hands in Korea? - Namhan South Korea ??

Do people shake hands in Korea?

Do People Shake Hands in Korea?


The cultural etiquettes of different countries are diverse and intriguing. One such etiquette that stands out is shaking hands. In some cultures, it is a customary way to greet people, while in others, it might not be as common. This article will explore whether people shake hands in Korea.

History of Handshaking in Korea

In the past, handshaking was not a common practice in Korea. Instead, a polite bow accompanied by a greeting was the standard way of showing respect and greeting someone. However, with globalization and increased interaction with the Western world, handshaking has become more prevalent in Korea.

When Do Koreans Shake Hands?

While handshaking has become more common in Korea, it is still not the norm. Koreans are more likely to bow to show respect, especially when greeting someone for the first time. However, handshaking is becoming more common in business settings or when meeting foreigners.

The Importance of Respect in Korean Culture

Korean culture places a great emphasis on respect, and this is reflected in their greetings. It is important to show respect to elders, superiors, and those in positions of authority. Failure to do so can cause offense and damage relationships.

Bow vs. Handshake

While bowing is still the most common way to greet someone in Korea, handshaking is becoming more accepted, especially in business settings. However, it is important to remember that the level of respect shown through a bow can vary depending on the depth and angle of the bow.

Body Language in Korea

Korean culture places a lot of importance on body language, and this includes the way you greet someone. When bowing, it is important to keep your back straight and your hands at your sides. When shaking hands, it is important to make eye contact and give a firm but not overly strong handshake.

Other Greetings in Korea

Besides bowing and handshaking, there are other ways to greet someone in Korea. One such way is to say “annyeonghaseyo,” which means hello. Another way is to simply nod your head as a sign of acknowledgement.

Gender Differences in Greetings

In Korea, gender can also play a role in the way you greet someone. Men may bow slightly deeper than women when greeting each other, and it is also more common for men to shake hands than women.

Etiquette Tips for Greeting Someone in Korea

If you are visiting Korea or meeting someone from Korea, it is important to be aware of their cultural norms when it comes to greetings. Some tips include bowing when meeting someone for the first time, waiting for them to initiate a handshake if they want to, making eye contact, and keeping your tone of voice respectful.


While handshaking is becoming more common in Korea, it still is not the norm. Bowing and showing respect is still the most accepted way to greet someone in Korean culture. However, if you are meeting someone in a business setting or from a different culture, a handshake may be appropriate.


1. “Korean Business Etiquette and Culture.” Commisceo Global.

2. “Korean Culture: Bowing vs. Handshaking.” LingoDeer.

3. “The Art of Bowing in Korea.” The Korea Times.

4. “Greeting Etiquette for South Korea.” TripSavvy.

Is it rude to shake hands in Korea?

Shaking hands in South Korea may differ from what we’re used to in the West, and it’s considered impolite. It’s recommended to adjust your technique and demonstrate politeness by using both hands to shake a person’s hand when meeting them for the first time.

What does shake hands mean in Korean?

The action of shaking hands is defined as the verb “to shake hands” and is often expressed through physical contact between individuals as a form of greeting or agreement.

How do Koreans show respect to others?

It is important to display respect towards those who are older than you by listening to their opinions, waiting for their input, and showing deference. Additionally, when offering or receiving gifts, food or objects, it is customary to use both hands. When indoors, it is customary to remove your hat as a sign of respect.

What is considered most disrespectful in Korean culture?

It is considered impolite to touch or make direct eye contact with seniors in Korea, as it may be seen as a challenge. Additionally, it is important to note that Korea is a very homogenous country linguistically and racially.

Is smiling rude in Korea?

In Korean culture, smiling can convey feelings of joy or amusement as well as shame or embarrassment, such as when admitting a mistake. However, sneezing is generally seen as impolite.

Why do Koreans shake hands with both hands?

When accepting something in Korea, it is considered impolite to use only one hand. It is important to use both hands when accepting something as a sign of respect.

Western Influence on Korean Greetings

The influence of Western culture on Korea has led to changes in traditional Korean greetings. With increased globalization, younger generations in Korea have been exposed to Western customs and are more likely to adopt them. Therefore, it is not surprising to see handshaking becoming more common in Korea.

The Role of Age and Status in Greetings

In Korea, age and status play a significant role in greetings. It is important to greet elders with more respect and formality than peers or subordinates. When greeting someone older or in a higher position of authority, a deeper bow or more formal language may be appropriate. Similarly, when meeting someone younger or of a lower status, a shallower bow or less formal language may be acceptable.

Cultural Sensitivity in Greetings

When visiting or conducting business in Korea, it is crucial to be culturally sensitive in your greetings. Showing respect and understanding cultural norms can go a long way in building relationships and avoiding misunderstandings. Taking the time to learn basic Korean phrases and customs can also demonstrate your respect for the culture.

Greetings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, physical contact such as handshaking has become less common worldwide. In Korea, bowing or nodding may be preferred as a safer alternative to handshaking. It is also important to follow public health guidelines such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing when greeting others.

The Importance of Nonverbal Communication

In Korean culture, nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication. Facial expressions, gestures, and body language can convey meaning and show respect. For example, maintaining eye contact during a conversation shows interest and attentiveness. When greeting someone, a smile can also convey warmth and friendliness.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top