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What are some Korean taboos?

Introduction

Korean culture is rich in traditions and customs that have been passed down for generations. Some of these traditions and customs can be seen as taboos that must be avoided at all costs. In this article, we will explore some of the most common Korean taboos that foreigners should know before traveling to Korea.

Taboo #1: Using the wrong hand

In Korean culture, it is considered impolite to use your left hand when eating or passing objects to others. The left hand is traditionally used for hygiene purposes, such as wiping after using the restroom. Therefore, using your left hand during a meal or when giving something to someone is seen as disrespectful.

Taboo #2: Pouring your own drink

Another Korean taboo is pouring your own drink. In Korean culture, it is customary for someone else to pour your drink for you. If you pour your own drink, it can be viewed as selfish or rude. Instead, wait for someone else to offer to pour your drink or offer to pour someone else’s drink first.

Taboo #3: Not taking off your shoes

In Korean homes and some public places, it is customary to take off your shoes before entering. This is because Koreans value cleanliness and do not want dirt or germs from outside to be brought into their homes. Therefore, not taking off your shoes can be seen as disrespectful and unclean.

Taboo #4: Showing the bottom of your feet

In Korean culture, showing the bottom of your feet is considered rude and disrespectful. This is because the feet are seen as the lowest part of the body and therefore showing them can be viewed as insulting. When sitting down, make sure to keep your feet flat on the ground and avoid crossing your legs so that the bottom of your feet are not exposed.

Taboo #5: Blowing your nose in public

Blowing your nose in public is considered impolite and rude in Korean culture. It is seen as unclean and can make those around you uncomfortable. Instead, Koreans will discreetly sniffle or excuse themselves to blow their nose in private.

Taboo #6: Not offering a proper greeting

In Korean culture, it is important to offer a proper greeting when meeting someone for the first time or when entering a room. This includes bowing and using formal language. Not offering a proper greeting can be viewed as disrespectful and can make others feel uncomfortable.

Taboo #7: Pointing with your finger

Pointing with your finger is considered rude in Korean culture. Instead, Koreans will use their entire hand or nod in the direction they want to indicate. Pointing with your finger can be viewed as aggressive or accusatory.

Taboo #8: Being too direct

Koreans value politeness and indirect communication. Being too direct or blunt can be viewed as rude or confrontational. Instead, Koreans will often use euphemisms or speak in a roundabout way to get their point across without offending others.

Taboo #9: Being too loud

Koreans value quietness and tranquility. Being too loud or boisterous can be viewed as disruptive and disrespectful. Instead, Koreans will often speak softly and avoid making unnecessary noise.

Taboo #10: Touching someone’s head

In Korean culture, touching someone’s head is considered impolite and disrespectful. The head is viewed as sacred and should not be touched without permission. Therefore, avoid touching someone’s head unless they give you permission to do so.

Taboo #11: Not respecting elders

Respecting elders is highly valued in Korean culture. Not showing proper respect to elders can be viewed as disrespectful and rude. Therefore, make sure to use formal language and show deference to those who are older than you.

Taboo #12: Using informal language with strangers

Using informal language with strangers is considered impolite in Korean culture. Instead, Koreans will use formal language when speaking to those who are not close friends or family members. Using informal language can be viewed as disrespectful and can make others uncomfortable.

What is considered most disrespectful in Korean culture?

It is considered impolite in Korea to touch or make physical contact during interactions, such as touching, patting, or back slapping. Additionally, it is considered disrespectful for juniors to make direct eye contact with their seniors, as it may be seen as challenging. Korea is known for being one of the most racially and linguistically homogenous countries in the world.

What are the don’ts in Korea?

It is important to not compare Korean culture or language to that of Japan and instead recognize and appreciate its unique qualities within East Asian cultures. Additionally, it is advised to remain composed and avoid emotional outbursts in heated situations.

What gifts are taboo in Korea?

It is not recommended to give expensive gifts to Koreans as they may feel the need to reciprocate with a gift of similar value. Avoid giving knives or scissors as they symbolize the end of a relationship. Green headwear, gifts with red writing (which represents death), and gifts in sets of four (also associated with death) should also be avoided.

Is PDA taboo in Korea?

In South Korea, public displays of affection such as kissing and hugging are frowned upon and considered inappropriate. Instead, these intimate moments are viewed as special and are meant to be shared in private with one’s partner.

Is smiling rude in Korea?

In Korean culture, a smile can convey not only happiness and humor but also shame or embarrassment, such as when someone makes a mistake. Conversely, sneezing is deemed impolite in Korea.

What is to be embarrassing in Korean?

Feeling embarrassed or awkward.

Taboo #13: Public displays of affection

Public displays of affection, such as kissing or hugging, are not common in Korean culture. It is viewed as inappropriate and can make others uncomfortable. Therefore, refrain from showing too much physical affection in public.

Taboo #14: Interrupting others

Interrupting someone while they are speaking is considered rude in Korean culture. It is viewed as disrespectful and can be seen as a sign of impatience or lack of interest. Instead, wait for the person to finish speaking before responding.

Taboo #15: Not respecting personal space

Koreans value personal space and may feel uncomfortable if someone invades it. It is important to respect other people’s personal space and avoid standing too close or touching them without permission.

Taboo #16: Wearing revealing clothing

Wearing revealing clothing, such as short skirts or low-cut tops, is not common in Korean culture. It is viewed as inappropriate and can make others uncomfortable. Therefore, dress modestly when in public.

Taboo #17: Not finishing your meal

In Korean culture, it is considered impolite to not finish your meal. It is seen as wasteful and disrespectful to the person who prepared the food. Therefore, try to finish your meal or at least leave a small amount of food on your plate to show that you have eaten enough.

Taboo #18: Not offering gifts

In Korean culture, it is customary to offer gifts when visiting someone’s home or when meeting someone for the first time. Not offering a gift can be viewed as impolite and disrespectful. Therefore, consider bringing a small gift such as fruit or flowers when meeting someone new.

Taboo #19: Criticizing food

Koreans take pride in their cuisine and may feel offended if someone criticizes their food. It is important to show appreciation for the food that is offered and avoid making negative comments about it.

Taboo #20: Not removing your hat indoors

In Korean culture, it is considered impolite to wear a hat indoors. It is seen as disrespectful and can make others uncomfortable. Therefore, remove your hat when entering a building or someone’s home.

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