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Is kissing normal in South Korea?


South Korea has a unique culture that is different from Western countries in many ways. One of the things that foreigners often wonder about is whether kissing is normal in South Korea. In this article, we will explore this topic in detail and discuss the cultural context of kissing in South Korea.

The importance of physical contact in South Korea

Physical contact is an important aspect of Korean culture, as it is seen as a way to build relationships and show affection. However, the type of physical contact that is appropriate varies depending on the context and the relationship between individuals. For example, holding hands is considered acceptable between friends of the same gender, but not between opposite genders who are not in a romantic relationship.

Kissing in romantic relationships

Kissing is generally considered normal and acceptable in romantic relationships in South Korea. However, public displays of affection are not common and are often frowned upon. Couples typically keep their physical interactions private and reserved for when they are alone or with close friends.

The influence of Western culture

In recent years, Western culture has had a significant influence on South Korea, particularly among younger generations. As a result, some aspects of Western dating culture, such as holding hands and kissing in public, have become more common among young couples.

The role of social status

Social status plays an important role in Korean society, and this can affect how physical contact is perceived. For example, it may be more acceptable for a couple who are both from wealthy or high-status families to engage in public displays of affection compared to a couple who are from lower-status backgrounds.

Gender roles and expectations

Gender roles and expectations also play a role in how physical contact is perceived in South Korea. Men are generally expected to take the lead when it comes to initiating physical contact, and women are expected to be more reserved and demure. As a result, women may feel uncomfortable with public displays of affection or initiating physical contact.

The influence of traditional values

Traditional Korean values, such as Confucianism, also play a role in how physical contact is perceived. These values emphasize respect for elders and authority figures, as well as a strict adherence to social norms and expectations. As a result, public displays of affection may be seen as disrespectful or inappropriate in certain contexts.

Cultural differences with the West

Compared to Western culture, South Korean culture places a greater emphasis on group harmony and avoiding conflict. This can make public displays of affection uncomfortable for some Koreans, as it may be seen as disrupting the social order or causing discomfort to others.

The role of age

Age is an important factor in Korean culture, and this can affect how physical contact is perceived. For example, it may be more acceptable for younger couples to engage in public displays of affection compared to older couples, who may be expected to be more reserved and respectful.

Regional differences

South Korea is a diverse country with different regions and subcultures. This can affect how physical contact is perceived in different parts of the country. For example, people from Seoul may be more open to public displays of affection compared to people from more conservative regions.


In conclusion, kissing is generally considered normal and acceptable in romantic relationships in South Korea, but public displays of affection are not common or widely accepted. The perception of physical contact also varies depending on factors such as social status, gender roles, age, and regional differences. Understanding these cultural nuances can help foreigners navigate social interactions in South Korea with greater sensitivity and respect.

Is kiss common in South Korea?

In Korean dating culture, it is considered a sin to engage in public displays of affection (PDA), although it is common for couples to engage in holding hands, giving a quick kiss, or other mild forms of PDA. While it is generally advised to keep more intimate moments private, some level of PDA is still widely seen in Korean relationships.

What does kissing mean in Korean culture?

In South Korea, public displays of affection such as long kisses and hugs are viewed as inappropriate and distasteful. Instead, they are seen as intimate and special moments that should be reserved for private settings with one’s partner.

Is hookup culture common in Korea?

While hookup culture may not be as widespread in Korea as it is in other western countries, it is still present and can be easily found. Based on personal experience, Korean men tend to be upfront about their intentions and communicate honestly about what they are seeking.

What is considered flirting in Korea?

In Korean culture, flirting is similar to what is depicted in Korean dramas. People use charming, endearing expressions to appeal to the person they are interested in. In addition to verbal flirting, they also use aegyo (acting cute) to express their affection.

Why do Koreans not show PDA?

In Korea, many people still adhere to conservative societal norms, which means that couples typically avoid public displays of affection as it is seen as inappropriate behavior. Instead, they may choose to express their love in other ways, such as wearing matching outfits or occasionally holding hands.

Do Koreans confess their love?

In Korean culture, expressing one’s feelings of love to a potential partner is considered a significant step towards starting a romantic relationship. This confession marks the end of the “some” stage and the beginning of a committed couple.

It is important to note that while kissing may be more accepted in romantic relationships, premarital sex is still considered taboo in South Korean culture. This is due in part to the influence of Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining one’s virtue and purity until marriage. As a result, many couples may choose to abstain from sexual activity until they are married.

Another factor to consider is the influence of popular media, particularly K-pop and Korean dramas, on perceptions of physical contact in South Korea. These forms of entertainment often portray romantic relationships with more physical intimacy than is common in real life, which can create unrealistic expectations among viewers.

It is also worth noting that attitudes towards physical contact are not universal within South Korea and may vary depending on individual beliefs and values. Some Koreans may be more open to public displays of affection, while others may find even holding hands in public to be inappropriate.

Overall, it is important for foreigners to be aware of cultural differences and to approach physical contact with sensitivity and respect. Asking for consent and observing social cues can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that interactions are comfortable and appropriate for all parties involved.

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