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What are Korean modesty standards?


Korean modesty standards are an integral part of Korean culture. It is a set of unwritten rules that govern how people dress, behave, and interact with others. These standards are deeply ingrained in society and are followed by most Koreans. Understanding these standards is crucial for anyone visiting or living in Korea.

History of Korean Modesty Standards

The Korean modesty standards have a long history dating back to the Joseon dynasty. During this period, Confucianism was the dominant ideology, and it emphasized modesty, humility, and respect for elders. These values were reflected in the way people dressed and behaved. Women wore hanbok, a traditional Korean dress that covered their entire body, while men wore loose-fitting clothing that covered their legs.

Dress Code

Korean modesty standards dictate that clothing should cover the body from the collarbone to below the knee. This means that shorts and skirts above the knee are not acceptable in most settings. Sleeveless shirts are also frowned upon unless they are worn under another garment.


Korean modesty standards also extend to behavior. Loud talking, public displays of affection, and confrontational behavior are considered inappropriate in public. People are expected to be respectful and quiet in public spaces like restaurants and transportation.


Mannerisms play a significant role in Korean modesty standards. Bowing is a common way to show respect and gratitude in Korea. It is customary to bow when greeting someone or saying goodbye. Additionally, covering one’s mouth while laughing or yawning is seen as a sign of politeness.


Personal hygiene is essential in Korean modesty standards. Cleanliness is highly valued, and body odor is considered offensive. Koreans take great care to ensure that they are clean and well-groomed at all times.

Business Attire

Korean modesty standards also extend to business attire. Businessmen are expected to wear suits and ties, while businesswomen are expected to dress conservatively in skirts or pantsuits. Bright colors and flashy jewelry are generally avoided in a business setting.

Religious Attire

For those who practice religion, Korean modesty standards also apply. Buddhist monks, for example, wear robes that cover their entire body. Women are expected to cover their heads with a scarf or hat when visiting a temple.

Wedding Attire

Weddings are an essential part of Korean culture, and Korean modesty standards apply to wedding attire as well. Brides wear traditional hanbok, which covers their entire body, while grooms wear a traditional Korean suit called a hanbok for men.


Korean modesty standards also apply to swimwear. Bikinis and other revealing swimwear are not acceptable in most public pools and beaches. Instead, Koreans wear one-piece swimsuits or swimwear that covers the body.

Foreigners in Korea

Foreigners in Korea are not expected to follow Korean modesty standards strictly. However, it is still important to be respectful of Korean culture and customs. Dressing conservatively and avoiding loud behavior in public spaces is recommended.


Korean modesty standards are an essential part of Korean culture. They reflect the values of respect, humility, and modesty that are deeply ingrained in society. Understanding these standards is crucial for anyone visiting or living in Korea to avoid offending local customs and traditions.

What is the Korean view on modesty?

In Korea, the accepted standards of modesty may differ from those in your own country. Typically, Koreans believe that the chest and shoulders should be covered, but it is simple to find a top that can be paired with either a maxi skirt or pants.

Do Koreans dress modestly?

Koreans value hard work, respect for family, and humility. In South Korea, due to cultural norms surrounding filial piety and gender roles, there are certain etiquette practices that only apply to women. For example, women are expected to dress modestly and avoid form-fitting or revealing clothing.

Is modesty important in Korea?

Korean culture is heavily impacted by Buddhist beliefs and the principles of Confucianism. In Confucianism, modesty is esteemed, particularly for women, and this may have an effect on their willingness to utilize preventive health resources like pap smears and mammography.

Are Koreans more modest?

Koreans are not extremely strict about dressing conservatively, but they are more modest compared to many Western countries that embrace more modern Western styles. It is not necessary to cover yourself from head to toe in Korea.

What is the beauty standard in Korea?

The beauty standards in Korea emphasize having a slim, v-shaped face, symmetrical eyebrows, fair skin, a slender body, and double eyelids. These characteristics contribute to a youthful and innocent appearance.

What is considered most respectful in Korean culture?

It is important to demonstrate respect towards those who are older than you by deferring to their opinions, waiting for their input, and lowering your gaze when in their presence. Additionally, it is customary to use two hands when offering or receiving objects, gifts, or food, and to remove your hat when indoors.

Challenges to Korean Modesty Standards

Despite the importance of Korean modesty standards, they are not without challenges. With the rise of Western influence, younger generations in Korea are starting to adopt more Western fashion and behavior. This has led to some tension between older and younger generations, with older Koreans feeling that younger Koreans are not respecting traditional values.

Additionally, there are debates within Korean society about the strictness of these standards. Some argue that the standards are too restrictive and limit individual expression, while others believe that they are an important part of maintaining social order and respect.

Evolution of Korean Modesty Standards

Korean modesty standards have evolved over time, reflecting changes in society and culture. For example, during the 1960s and 1970s, mini-skirts became popular among young women in Korea. However, this trend was met with backlash from older generations, who felt that it went against traditional values of modesty.

Today, Korean modesty standards continue to evolve, with more liberal attitudes towards dress and behavior becoming increasingly accepted. However, traditional values of respect and humility remain an important part of Korean culture.

Global Influence on Modesty Standards

Korean modesty standards are not unique to Korea. Similar standards exist in many cultures around the world, reflecting shared values of respect and humility. However, as globalization continues to shape our world, these standards are also evolving.

For example, in some Muslim countries, women are required to wear a hijab or burqa in public as a sign of modesty. In other cultures, such as India, wearing a sari or other traditional dress is seen as a sign of respect and modesty.

As our world becomes more interconnected, it is important to understand and respect the different modesty standards that exist across cultures. By doing so, we can promote understanding and respect for different ways of life.

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