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How to behave in South Korea?


South Korea is a unique and beautiful country with a rich culture and history. As a visitor, it’s important to understand how to behave in South Korea to show respect to the locals and their customs. In this article, we will provide you with comprehensive information on how to behave in South Korea.

Understand the Culture

It’s essential to understand the culture of South Korea before visiting. South Korea is a country with strong Confucian values, which emphasize respect for authority and elders. You should always bow when greeting someone, especially those who are older or in higher positions than you. Additionally, it’s important to avoid touching or showing PDA in public.

Learn the Language

Korean is the official language of South Korea, and while many people speak English, it’s still important to learn some basic Korean phrases. This will show that you respect the local language and culture. Some common phrases include “annyeonghaseyo” (hello), “kamsahamnida” (thank you), and “mianhamnida” (I’m sorry).

Dress Appropriately

South Koreans take their appearance seriously, and dressing appropriately is essential. Avoid wearing revealing or overly casual clothing when visiting temples or other religious sites. It’s also important to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a traditional Korean restaurant.

Eating Etiquette

South Koreans have a unique eating culture that emphasizes sharing food and using chopsticks. When eating with others, it’s important to wait for the eldest person to begin eating before starting yourself. Additionally, it’s polite to use both hands when passing dishes or receiving food from others.

Drinking Etiquette

Drinking is a common social activity in South Korea, but it’s important to understand the drinking etiquette. When drinking with others, it’s customary to pour drinks for others before filling your own glass. Additionally, it’s impolite to refuse a drink when someone offers it to you.

Public Behavior

South Korea has strict rules regarding public behavior, and it’s important to follow them. Spitting or littering in public is considered rude and disrespectful. Additionally, it’s important to avoid taking pictures of strangers without their permission.


South Korea has an efficient and reliable transportation system, but it’s important to follow the rules. When using public transportation, it’s important to give up your seat for elderly or pregnant passengers. Additionally, talking loudly or playing music without headphones is considered impolite.

Tipping Culture

Tipping is not a common practice in South Korea, and it’s not expected in restaurants or other service industries. Instead, showing gratitude through words or gestures is appreciated.

Gift Giving

Gift giving is an essential part of South Korean culture, and it’s customary to give gifts on special occasions or when visiting someone’s home. When giving a gift, it’s important to wrap it neatly and present it with both hands.

Respect for Elders

Respect for elders is a significant part of South Korean culture. It’s important to speak politely and deferentially to those who are older than you. Additionally, when receiving or giving something to an elder, it’s customary to use both hands.


Behaving appropriately in South Korea shows respect for the local culture and customs. By understanding the language, culture, and etiquette of South Korea, you can make the most of your visit while showing respect for the locals. Remember always to be polite and respectful when interacting with others in South Korea.

What is typical Korean behavior?

Korean culture places great value on ethical behavior, respect for elders and family, sincerity, and loyalty. There are specific codes of conduct that are followed during social interactions, meals, prayer, and celebrations. Rather than shaking hands, Koreans often show respect through bowing.

What are some examples of rude behavior in Korea?

If a behavior is deemed impolite in your country, it is likely to be viewed as impolite in Korea as well. Actions like spitting, yelling, physically assaulting others, using foul language, and displaying unpleasant behavior are all considered impolite in Korean culture.

How do you show respect in Korean?

It is important to show respect to those who are older than you by seeking their opinion, waiting for their input, and lowering your gaze when addressing them. Additionally, when offering or receiving objects, gifts, or food, it is appropriate to use both hands. Lastly, it is customary to remove your hat when indoors as a sign of respect.

What are 5 values about Korean people?

Korean cultural values prioritize respect for family, diligence, safeguarding one’s loved ones, and observing proper etiquette within the family, which remain relevant in contemporary society. It is customary to wait for introductions at social gatherings, while bowing is a traditional form of greeting.

Is it OK to kiss in public in South Korea?

For older generations in South Korea, public displays of affection such as kissing are seen as inappropriate and immodest. While younger adults are more accepting, elders still discourage it. In South Korean culture, dressing well is important and seen as a sign of respect.

How do you apologize in Korean culture?

If you need to apologize in Korean, there are two common phrases you can use: 죄송합니다, which is pronounced joesonghamnida, and 미안해요, which is pronounced mianhaeyo.

Technology Use

South Korea is a highly developed country and has a strong technology culture. However, it’s important to use technology politely and respectfully. When using your phone in public, it’s essential to keep the volume low and avoid talking loudly on the phone. Additionally, it’s important to avoid using your phone in quiet areas such as libraries or museums.

Religious Sites

South Korea has a rich religious history, and many visitors come to see the country’s temples and palaces. When visiting religious sites, it’s important to dress appropriately and follow the rules. Women should cover their shoulders and wear long pants or skirts, while men should wear long pants and collared shirts. Additionally, it’s important to remove your shoes before entering a temple or palace.

Business Etiquette

South Korea has a strong business culture that emphasizes respect and hierarchy. When meeting with business partners or clients, it’s important to arrive on time and dress appropriately. It’s also important to exchange business cards with both hands and take time to read the card before putting it away. Additionally, it’s customary to address people by their title or position rather than their first name.

Personal Space

South Koreans value personal space, and it’s important to respect this when interacting with others. Avoid standing too close or touching someone without their permission. Additionally, it’s impolite to point with your finger or feet.

Time Management

South Koreans value punctuality, and it’s essential to arrive on time for meetings or appointments. It’s also considered impolite to cancel or reschedule meetings at the last minute. If you are running late for a meeting, be sure to call or message the person you are meeting to let them know.

National Holidays

South Korea celebrates many national holidays, and it’s important to be aware of these when planning your visit. During holidays, many businesses and attractions may be closed or have limited hours. Additionally, it’s important to show respect during national holidays and avoid making loud noises or causing disruptions.

Emergency Situations

In case of emergency situations such as natural disasters or accidents, it’s important to follow the instructions of local authorities. It’s also essential to stay calm and avoid causing panic. If you need assistance or have an emergency, dial 112 for help.

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