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What is taboo in South Korea?


South Korea is a country with a rich culture and history, and as with any society, it has its own set of taboos. Taboos are social or cultural practices that are considered inappropriate or unacceptable by society. Understanding these taboos is crucial for anyone who wants to visit or live in South Korea.

Taboo Topics

There are several taboo topics in South Korea, including politics, religion, death, sex, and money. These topics are considered sensitive and should be approached with caution.


Politics is a taboo topic in South Korea. Criticizing the government or the president can be seen as disrespectful and may result in social ostracism. It is important to keep your political opinions to yourself when in public.


Religion is another taboo topic in South Korea. The majority of people in South Korea are either Buddhist or Christian, but there are also many other religions practiced in the country. It is important to respect people’s beliefs and avoid discussing religion in public.


Death is a taboo topic in many cultures, including South Korea. It is considered impolite to ask someone about their family members who have passed away or to discuss death in general. Mourning practices vary depending on the religion and region of the deceased.


Sex is a taboo topic in South Korea. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and it is considered inappropriate to discuss sex in public. Many Koreans also consider homosexuality to be taboo.


Money is a sensitive topic in many cultures, including South Korea. It is considered impolite to ask someone about their income or financial status, and discussing money matters in public can be seen as crass.

Dress Code

South Korea has a strict dress code, and it is important to dress appropriately for different occasions. For example, wearing revealing clothing is generally seen as inappropriate in public places, especially when visiting a temple or other religious sites.

Table Manners

Table manners are important in Korean culture. It is considered impolite to start eating before the oldest person at the table has started, and it is also impolite to leave food on your plate.

Body Language

Body language can also be considered taboo in South Korea. For example, pointing with your finger is considered rude, and it is better to use your whole hand instead. Making eye contact for too long can also be seen as aggressive.

Age Hierarchy

South Korea has a strong age hierarchy that governs social interactions. It is important to show respect to elders and use formal language when speaking to them. Younger people are expected to defer to their elders in many situations.

Gift Giving

Gift giving is an important part of Korean culture, but there are some rules to follow. For example, it is considered impolite to give someone a clock as a gift because it symbolizes death.


In conclusion, South Korea has its own set of taboos that are important to understand in order to avoid offending others. It is important to be respectful of Korean culture and customs when visiting or living in the country. By following these guidelines, you can have a more enjoyable and respectful experience in South Korea.

What is considered most disrespectful in Korean culture?

It is best to avoid physical contact such as touching, patting, or back slapping during interactions. Additionally, in Korea, it is considered impolite or confrontational for juniors to make direct eye contact with their seniors. Korea is a highly homogeneous country in terms of race and language.

What is considered inappropriate clothing in Korea?

In South Korea’s major cities, it is common for women to wear short shorts and skirts, but exposed shoulders and low-cut tops are still considered inappropriate in most areas. To stay comfortable during the hot summers, loose-fitting t-shirts are a good choice instead of tank tops.

What things are not allowed in South Korea?

The Republic of Korea prohibits the importation of firearms, drugs, pornographic materials, subversive or treasonous materials, and counterfeit items. For more information on export controls and a list of prohibited items, click on the “export controls to the Republic of Korea” link.

What is cultural rules in Korea?

Showing respect through basic etiquette can take various forms. It is important to always demonstrate respect towards those who are older than you. This can include listening to their opinions, seeking their input, and lowering your gaze in their presence. Additionally, it is considered polite to offer and receive objects, gifts, and food with both hands.

Is kissing in public allowed in South Korea?

Public displays of affection such as passionate kissing and long hugs are not acceptable in South Korea and are considered inappropriate. Instead, they are viewed as intimate moments that should be shared between partners in private settings.

What is to be embarrassing in Korean?

The adjective “당황스러운” can be translated to “embarrassing.”


Etiquette is highly valued in South Korean culture. It is important to greet others politely, using the appropriate honorifics based on age and social status. Bowing is also an important aspect of etiquette and is used to show respect or gratitude.

Personal Space

Personal space is another aspect of Korean culture that should be considered. Koreans tend to stand close to each other when conversing, and physical contact such as hand-holding or hugging is not common in public. It is important to respect personal space boundaries, especially when interacting with strangers.

Drinking Culture

Drinking culture is a significant part of Korean social life. Many business deals and friendships are formed over drinks, and it is common for colleagues to go out for drinks after work. It is important to pace yourself and know your limits when drinking with others.

Gender Roles

Gender roles are still prevalent in South Korea, although they are slowly changing. Men are often expected to be the primary breadwinners, while women are expected to take care of the home and children. Women may also face discrimination in the workplace or social settings.


Education is highly valued in South Korean culture. Students often attend school for long hours and participate in after-school programs or private tutoring. The pressure to succeed academically can be intense, and failure is often seen as a source of shame.


South Korea has a high standard of healthcare, but there are some cultural differences that should be noted. Patients are expected to show respect to their doctors and follow their advice without question. It is also common for patients to bring gifts or food as a sign of gratitude.

Festivals and Holidays

South Korea has many festivals and holidays throughout the year, and these events are an important part of Korean culture. Some of the most popular festivals include the Lunar New Year, Chuseok (the harvest festival), and the Boryeong Mud Festival. It is important to understand the significance of these events and respect their traditions.

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