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What not to do in Korean culture?


In this article, we will discuss what not to do in Korean culture. It is essential to note that every culture has its own unique traditions and customs, and it’s vital to respect them to avoid any offense or misunderstandings. Korea is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of what actions or behaviors are considered rude or disrespectful.

Avoiding Eye Contact

In Korean culture, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect. However, in western cultures, avoiding eye contact can be seen as suspicious or untrustworthy. Koreans believe that direct eye contact may come off as rude or confrontational. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain a comfortable level of eye contact when communicating with Koreans.

Using the Wrong Hand Gestures

Hand gestures are an essential part of communication in Korean culture. However, some hand gestures that are acceptable in western cultures can be considered offensive in Korea. For example, forming an “O” shape with your thumb and index finger can be seen as vulgar or sexually suggestive.

Not Removing Shoes

In Korean culture, it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or certain public places such as temples or traditional restaurants. It’s essential to respect this tradition and avoid wearing shoes inside a Korean person’s home.

Ignoring Hierarchy

Koreans place a lot of importance on hierarchy based on age and social status. It’s essential to show proper respect towards those who are older or hold higher positions than you. Failing to do so can be seen as disrespectful and inappropriate.

Public Displays of Affection

In Korean culture, public displays of affection such as kissing or hugging are not common. Koreans tend to be more reserved when it comes to showing physical affection in public. It’s essential to be mindful of this and avoid any behavior that may be deemed inappropriate.

Not Bowing Properly

Bowing is a traditional greeting in Korean culture, and it’s essential to do it correctly. Failing to bow properly or not bowing at all can be seen as disrespectful or rude. The depth and duration of the bow depend on the social status of the person you are greeting.

Not Covering Your Mouth When Eating

In Korea, it’s considered impolite to eat with your mouth open or make loud chewing noises. It’s essential to cover your mouth when eating, especially when in public places.

Using Chopsticks Incorrectly

Chopsticks are commonly used in Korea, and it’s essential to use them correctly. Using chopsticks incorrectly, such as pointing them towards someone or leaving them sticking upright in your food, can be seen as disrespectful.

Not Offering or Receiving Gifts Properly

Gift-giving is a significant aspect of Korean culture, and it’s essential to offer or receive gifts appropriately. It’s customary to use both hands when giving or receiving a gift, and it’s important to choose an appropriate gift based on the recipient’s age, gender, and social status.

Not Following Dining Etiquette

Korean dining etiquette involves several rules such as not sticking chopsticks into rice, not blowing your nose at the table, and not filling your own glass with alcohol. It’s essential to follow these rules to show respect for the host and avoid any offense.

Interrupting Others When Speaking

In Korean culture, interrupting others when speaking is considered rude and disrespectful. It’s essential to wait for the person speaking to finish before adding your input or asking a question.


In conclusion, Korean culture has several unique and significant traditions and customs that should be respected. By being aware of what not to do in Korean culture, you can avoid any misunderstandings or offense and show proper respect towards the people and their traditions.

What are the don’ts in Korea?

Do not compare Korean culture or language to that of Japan, as Korea has its own unique identity that should be recognized. It is important to avoid showing anger or strong emotions in public displays.

What is cultural rules in Korea?

Showing respect through basic etiquette can take different forms. When interacting with elders, it is important to defer to their opinion, wait for their input, and show deference by lowering your gaze. Additionally, when offering or receiving objects, gifts, or food, it is appropriate to use both hands.

How do you respect Korean culture?

In Korean culture, showing respect based on age and social status is extremely significant, and hierarchy plays a major role in all social interactions. Every individual is assigned a specific role in society through this hierarchy, making it critical to honor and acknowledge it. Koreans tend to feel most at ease when interacting with those they perceive as their peers.

Are tattoos allowed in South Korea?

According to South Korean law, only licensed medical professionals are allowed to open tattoo parlors, while individuals without medical training are not permitted to do so. However, having a tattoo itself is not illegal, except for in the military where it is prohibited. After serving in the military, individuals are allowed to get tattoos.

What does crossing legs in Korean mean?

When you cross your legs, some people consider it rude or uninterested in the other person. It’s better to sit upright with your hands in your lap to show respect and attention. Having an open body posture indicates sincerity and attentiveness.

What are Korean values?

The Korean culture places great emphasis on respecting and obeying one’s family, working hard, safeguarding the family, and practicing proper behavior among family members, which remains relevant in contemporary times. Additionally, it is customary to wait for introductions at social events.

Avoiding Direct Confrontation

In Korean culture, direct confrontation is often avoided. It’s essential to express your thoughts and opinions in a respectful and indirect manner to avoid offending or embarrassing others. Koreans value harmony and peaceful interactions, so it’s important to be mindful of this when communicating with them.

Not Respecting Elders

Respect for elders is a significant aspect of Korean culture. Failing to show proper respect towards elders can be seen as disrespectful and inappropriate. It’s important to use formal language and honorifics when speaking to those who are older than you.

Not Dressing Appropriately

Dressing appropriately is essential in Korean culture, especially when attending formal occasions or religious events. It’s important to dress modestly and avoid revealing clothing. Wearing shoes that are easy to remove is also advisable, as it’s customary to remove shoes when entering certain places.

Being Late

In Korean culture, punctuality is highly valued. Being late can be seen as disrespectful and rude. It’s important to arrive on time or even a few minutes early when attending meetings, appointments, or social gatherings.

Not Using Both Hands When Offering or Receiving Items

Using both hands when offering or receiving items such as business cards, gifts, or money is an essential part of Korean culture. It’s seen as a sign of respect and sincerity. Failing to use both hands can be seen as careless or disrespectful.

Not Cleaning Up After Yourself

Keeping things clean and tidy is a significant aspect of Korean culture. It’s important to clean up after yourself in public places such as restaurants or cafes. Leaving a mess behind can be seen as disrespectful and inconsiderate.

Being Loud in Public Places

Koreans tend to be more reserved and quiet in public places. Being loud or rowdy can be seen as inappropriate and disrespectful. It’s important to be mindful of your volume and behavior when in public places such as parks, trains, or buses.

Not Understanding Social Cues

Koreans often communicate indirectly through social cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language. Failing to understand these cues can lead to misunderstandings or offense. It’s important to be observant and sensitive to these cues when communicating with Koreans.

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