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Do you shake hands in Korea?


In this article, we will explore the cultural norms and practices of shaking hands in Korea. Shaking hands is a common form of greeting in many countries, but it is important to understand the customs of each country before extending your hand. In Korea, there are specific rules and etiquette that must be followed when greeting someone.

The history of handshaking in Korea

The history of handshaking in Korea dates back to ancient times when people would bow to show respect. Today, handshaking is a common practice in business and social situations. It is important to note that Koreans have a strong sense of hierarchy, so the way you greet someone will depend on their status and age.

When to shake hands in Korea

In Korea, shaking hands is not always appropriate. It is more common to bow when greeting someone, especially if they are older or higher in rank. However, in business situations, shaking hands is becoming more common, especially in international settings.

How to shake hands in Korea

If you do shake hands in Korea, it is important to follow the proper etiquette. The handshake should be firm but not too strong. You should also make eye contact and bow slightly as a sign of respect. When meeting someone for the first time, it is also polite to introduce yourself and state your position or job title.

The importance of body language

In Korea, body language is just as important as verbal communication. The way you stand, sit, and gesture can convey a lot of information. When shaking hands, it is important to stand up straight and maintain eye contact. A weak handshake or looking away can be seen as a sign of disrespect.

The role of gender in handshaking

Gender also plays a role in handshaking in Korea. Men often shake hands with other men, but it is less common for women to shake hands with men. Women may instead bow as a sign of respect.

The role of age in handshaking

Age is also an important factor when shaking hands in Korea. It is common for younger people to bow to their elders as a sign of respect. When meeting someone older than you, it is important to use formal language and show deference.

Other forms of greeting in Korea

In addition to shaking hands and bowing, there are other forms of greeting in Korea. One common practice is to exchange business cards with both hands. This shows respect and is an important part of Korean business culture.

What not to do when shaking hands in Korea

There are certain things you should avoid when shaking hands in Korea. For example, it is impolite to touch someone on the shoulder or back while shaking hands. You should also avoid using your left hand, as it is considered rude.

Cultural differences in handshaking

It is important to understand that cultural differences in handshaking can vary greatly from country to country. In some cultures, a firm handshake is seen as a sign of strength and confidence, while in others it may be seen as aggressive or inappropriate.

The importance of respecting cultural norms

As a visitor or foreigner in Korea, it is important to respect the cultural norms and practices of shaking hands. By understanding the proper etiquette and following the rules, you can show respect and build positive relationships with Koreans.


In conclusion, shaking hands in Korea is not always appropriate or necessary. However, if you do choose to shake hands, it is important to follow the proper etiquette and show respect through body language and verbal communication. Understanding and respecting cultural differences can help you build positive relationships and navigate unfamiliar situations with ease.

Do South Koreans bow or shake hands?

In Korea, the bow is the customary way of greeting someone, although men may also choose to shake hands. When shaking hands, it is respectful to support your right forearm with your left hand. South Korean women typically nod slightly as a sign of respect, while Western women may extend their hand to a Korean man.

What does shake hands mean in Korean?

To shake hands is to engage in the act of physically grasping someone’s hand with your own, often as a gesture of greeting or agreement.

How do Koreans show respect to others?

It is important to demonstrate respect towards individuals who are older than you. This includes listening to their opinions, waiting for their input, and showing deference by lowering your gaze. When offering or receiving objects, gifts, or food, it is customary to use two hands. Additionally, it is appropriate to remove your hat when indoors.

What does the middle finger mean in South Korea?

An article from November 16th, 2022 noted that many individuals do not typically use their middle finger when pointing, as it is often associated with an offensive gesture. However, some Koreans may unintentionally use their middle finger for mundane tasks such as selecting items from a menu, operating an elevator, using their smartphone, or adjusting their glasses. The article was published and updated at the same time.

Is hugging normal in Korea?

Hugging is not a common practice in Korea, as it is mostly reserved for couples or close friends and family who are parting ways for an extended period of time. However, there may be some changes in the cultural norms surrounding hugging. This statement was made in September 2013.

Why do Koreans shake hands with both hands?

In Korean culture, it is considered impolite to use just one hand when receiving an item. To show respect, it is recommended to use both hands when receiving something.

It’s also important to note that physical contact in general is not as common in Korea as it may be in other cultures. Hugging or touching someone on the arm or shoulder can be seen as invasive or overly familiar, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid physical contact unless you are close friends or family.

In addition to following proper etiquette when shaking hands, it’s also important to dress appropriately for the occasion. In business settings, Koreans tend to dress conservatively and stylishly, so it’s best to wear formal attire such as a suit and tie. In more casual settings, such as meeting friends or acquaintances, business casual attire is acceptable.

If you’re unsure about whether or not to shake hands in a particular situation, observe those around you and follow their lead. It’s always better to be more formal and respectful than too casual or presumptuous. Additionally, if you make a mistake or unintentionally offend someone, apologizing and showing humility can go a long way in repairing any damage done.

Overall, shaking hands in Korea is just one aspect of the country’s unique culture and customs. By taking the time to understand and respect these nuances, foreigners can make positive connections with Koreans and show their appreciation for the country’s rich heritage.

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