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How should foreigners dress in South Korea?


Foreigners visiting South Korea need to be aware of the cultural norms and expectations when it comes to dressing. The way one dresses can be a reflection of respect towards the local culture and customs. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how foreigners should dress in South Korea.

Consider the Weather

South Korea has four distinct seasons, and the weather can vary significantly during each season. It is essential to dress appropriately for the weather to ensure comfort and enjoyment during your stay.

Business Attire

If you are visiting South Korea for business purposes, it is crucial to dress formally. Men should wear a suit and tie, while women should wear a conservative business suit or dress.

Casual Attire

Casual attire in South Korea is similar to other parts of East Asia. However, it would be best if you avoided wearing revealing clothing such as short shorts or low-cut tops. Instead, opt for comfortable and modest clothing such as jeans and t-shirts.


In South Korea, it is customary to remove shoes when entering homes or certain establishments such as temples. It is essential to wear slip-on shoes or shoes that are easy to remove when visiting these places.

Cultural Dress

When attending a traditional Korean event such as a wedding or festival, it is customary to wear Hanbok, which is the traditional Korean dress. This attire is typically rented from local shops and can be worn by both men and women.

Beach Attire

South Korea has some beautiful beaches that are popular tourist destinations during the summer months. When visiting these beaches, it is essential to dress appropriately. Women should wear a one-piece swimsuit or a conservative two-piece swimsuit, while men typically wear board shorts.


In South Korea, tattoos are still considered taboo and associated with gang culture. It is best to cover tattoos when possible or avoid getting them if you plan on visiting South Korea.


Wearing excessive jewelry or accessories can be seen as flashy and disrespectful in South Korea. It is best to keep accessories to a minimum and opt for subtle and modest options.


South Koreans tend to dress in more neutral colors such as black, white, and gray. Avoid wearing bright and bold colors that may stand out too much.

Respect Local Customs

When in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of caution and dress more conservatively. Respecting local customs and traditions is crucial when visiting foreign countries, and dressing appropriately is one way to show respect.


Overall, dressing appropriately in South Korea is essential to show respect towards the local culture and customs. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay in this beautiful country.

What is appropriate to wear in South Korea?

We recommend wearing a one-piece swimsuit and a sarong instead of a bikini, unless you’re at a tourist beach. Loose-fitting pants or a skirt can help protect you from the sun and keep you comfortable in hot weather. A loose cotton shirt is also a practical choice. If you’re on a business trip, opt for skirt-suits and heels that aren’t too short.

What to wear and what not to wear in South Korea?

In Korea, it is generally advised to refrain from wearing tops that expose the shoulders, stomach, or have a low-cut design. Despite the growing popularity of cold shoulder, off-shoulder, and crop tops among young Korean women, it is recommended to avoid tank tops and similar styles during your stay in Korea.

Is it OK to wear leggings in Korea?

Wearing leggings on the streets or at work/school in Korea may lead to unwanted attention and people may view it as inappropriate attire. It’s best to avoid wearing leggings in public settings to prevent getting unwanted stares or attention.

What are Korean modesty standards?

In Korea, the cultural expectations for modesty may differ from those in your own country. Generally, Koreans believe it is appropriate to cover the chest and shoulders. As a result, it is simple to find a suitable top that can be paired with a maxi skirt or pants.

What can I not bring to Korea?

The list of illegal drugs includes opium, marijuana/cannabis, cocaine, and others. Additionally, there are prohibited items such as medicinal drugs, animal products like handbags, wallets, stoles, taxidermy, and ivory from animals such as elephants, leopards, and alligators. Monetary instruments like cashier’s checks, overdraft checks, and postal money orders are also not allowed. This list is not exhaustive.

Can you wear white in Korea?

In Korean tradition, the color white has always been highly respected and people enjoy wearing white clothing. White is associated with ideals such as simplicity, self-discipline, sorrow, opposition to corruption, and the pursuit of purity.

Modesty is Key

Modesty is highly valued in South Korean culture, and this extends to clothing as well. It is essential to dress conservatively and avoid clothing that could be considered revealing or provocative. This is especially important when visiting temples or other religious sites, where modest dress is a sign of respect.

Smart Casual Dressing

Smart casual dressing is acceptable in most situations in South Korea. This means you can wear a collared shirt, slacks, and dress shoes for men, while women can wear blouses or shirts with skirts or dress pants. However, it is still essential to ensure that your clothing is modest and not too revealing.

Layering for the Weather

As South Korea experiences four seasons, it is essential to dress in layers to adjust to the weather. In the winter months, temperatures can drop significantly, so wearing thermal underwear, a coat, gloves, and a hat is necessary. In contrast, summer months can be very hot and humid, so wearing breathable clothing like cotton dresses or shorts with t-shirts is recommended.

Footwear Etiquette

Aside from removing shoes when entering certain establishments, it is also essential to note that shoes should be kept clean and tidy at all times. Shoes that are scuffed or dirty are seen as disrespectful and could offend some locals. It is also essential to wear appropriate footwear for the occasion, such as formal shoes for business meetings or hiking boots for outdoor activities.

The Importance of Grooming

In South Korean culture, grooming is an important aspect of appearance. It is essential to maintain good personal hygiene and have neat and tidy hair. For men, facial hair should be kept trimmed and presentable. In addition, wearing cologne or perfume should be done sparingly as strong fragrances can be considered offensive by some locals.


Dressing appropriately in South Korea is an essential part of respecting the local culture and customs. Whether you are visiting for business or pleasure, it is crucial to dress modestly and conservatively while still being comfortable. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your trip to South Korea is enjoyable and respectful.

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