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What is the Korean view on modesty?

The Korean View on Modesty


Modesty is a cultural value that differs from one country to another. In Korea, modesty is highly valued and considered a virtue. In this article, we will explore what the Korean view on modesty is, why it is important in their culture, and how it affects their everyday life.

What is Modesty?

Modesty is defined as the quality of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements. In Korea, it is associated with humility, politeness, and respect for others. It is considered a desirable trait that reflects one’s character and social status.

Historical Background

The Korean view on modesty has its roots in Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of propriety, respect for elders, and social order. Confucianism was introduced to Korea during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and has had a profound influence on the Korean culture ever since.

Modesty in Social Interaction

In Korea, modesty is expressed through social interaction. It is considered impolite to boast about one’s achievements or to draw attention to oneself. Instead, Koreans tend to downplay their accomplishments and show deference to others.

Modesty in Dress

Koreans also express modesty through their dress. They tend to dress conservatively and avoid revealing clothing. This reflects their belief that one’s appearance should not draw attention to oneself but rather complement the surroundings.

Modesty in Language

In Korea, the use of formal language is considered a sign of respect and modesty. Koreans use different levels of language depending on their relationship with the other person. Higher levels of language are used when speaking to elders or those in a higher social position.

Modesty in Work Ethics

In the workplace, modesty is expressed through a strong work ethic. Koreans value hard work and dedication, and they tend to avoid self-promotion. They believe that one’s work should speak for itself.

Modesty in Education

Education is highly valued in Korea, and modesty plays a role in this as well. Students are expected to show respect to their teachers and elders, and they are taught to downplay their achievements.

Modesty in Relationships

Koreans value strong relationships built on trust, mutual respect, and modesty. They tend to avoid confrontations and prioritize harmony in their relationships. Modesty helps them maintain this harmony by avoiding conflicts.

Modesty in Religion

Religion also plays a role in the Korean view on modesty. Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity all emphasize humility and respect for others. Koreans express their religious beliefs through their actions and interactions with others, showing humility and kindness.


In conclusion, the Korean view on modesty is deeply rooted in their culture and influenced by Confucianism. Modesty is expressed through social interaction, dress, language, work ethics, education, relationships, and religion. It reflects their belief that one’s accomplishments should be recognized but not boasted about. Modesty is an essential component of the Korean culture and a virtue that is highly valued.

Do Koreans dress modestly?

Koreans value qualities such as hard work, respect for parents, and humility. In South Korea, there are certain etiquette practices specific to women, due to the emphasis on filial piety and traditional gender roles. Women are expected to dress modestly, avoiding form-fitting or revealing clothing.

Is modesty important in Korea?

Korea is a nation that values modesty, propriety, and formalities, which is reflected in various aspects of daily life, such as greetings, attire, and behavior in public.

Are Koreans more modest?

Although Koreans are not extremely strict in terms of dress code, they tend to be more modest compared to many Western countries that follow modern western fashion trends. It is not necessary to be fully covered from head to toe, but it is still important to dress appropriately.

Is it OK to wear leggings in Korea?

It is not recommended to wear leggings on the streets in Korea as it may attract unwanted attention. If worn at work or school, others may stare or perceive the outfit as inappropriate. This is a cultural norm in Korea.

Is it ok to wear revealing clothes in Korea?

While modern Korean fashion has become more open to showing off shoulders, it is still uncommon to see tops or blouses that reveal both shoulders. Exposing the upper body is still not widely accepted in Korean fashion. If we do choose to wear a one-shoulder top, it is advised to bring a cardigan or jacket to cover up.

Is cleavage not allowed in Korea?

It is important to note that the country is conservative, so it is best to avoid revealing clothing such as cleavage, and keep your shoulders covered. If you wear a short skirt, follow the local custom and bring a pashmina or wrap to cover your knees when seated. When dining at restaurants with floor-style seating, it is recommended to wear a long and loose skirt or pants for modesty.

Modesty in Public Spaces

In public spaces, Koreans tend to show modesty by avoiding behaviors that draw attention to themselves. For example, they avoid speaking loudly or making excessive noise in public places like restaurants, buses, and trains. They also tend to avoid public displays of affection, such as kissing or hugging, as it is considered inappropriate.

Modesty in Dining Etiquette

Korean dining etiquette is also influenced by modesty. When eating with others, Koreans tend to show modesty by waiting for others to begin eating before starting themselves. They also tend to take small bites and chew their food quietly rather than making loud chewing noises.

Modesty in Gift-Giving

Gift-giving is an essential aspect of Korean culture, and modesty plays a role in this as well. When giving gifts, Koreans tend to downplay the value of the gift and emphasize the thought behind it. Similarly, when receiving gifts, they tend to show modesty by expressing gratitude rather than focusing on the value of the gift.

Modesty in Social Hierarchy

Social hierarchy is an important aspect of Korean culture, and modesty plays a role in how people interact with those of higher social status. Koreans tend to show modesty by using honorific language and showing deference to those in higher positions. They also tend to downplay their own accomplishments when speaking with those of higher social status.

Modesty in Beauty Standards

Korean beauty standards are heavily influenced by modesty as well. The ideal beauty standard emphasizes natural beauty and a subtle, understated look rather than flashy or bold makeup. This reflects the belief that one’s appearance should complement rather than overpower one’s personality and character.

Modesty in Personal Life

Finally, modesty plays a role in Korean’s personal lives as well. They tend to avoid bragging about their personal accomplishments or possessions and focus on building strong relationships with others. They also tend to value privacy and avoid drawing attention to themselves unnecessarily.

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