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Why do Koreans sit on the floor?

Why do Koreans sit on the floor?

Koreans have a unique cultural tradition of sitting on the floor. This tradition is deeply rooted in their history, lifestyle, and beliefs. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the different aspects of why Koreans sit on the floor.

Historical background

Historically, Korea is an agricultural society where people lived in small houses made of wood, straw, and clay. These houses had a raised floor made with wood or stone, where people would sleep, cook, and eat. The use of furniture was limited due to the lack of resources and space. Hence, sitting on the floor became a natural way of life for Koreans.

Cultural significance

The Korean culture values humility, respect, and harmony. Sitting on the floor is a symbol of humility and respect towards others. It shows that one is willing to lower oneself to the same level as others and be equal. This cultural value is reflected in Korean language, where there are different honorifics used to show respect towards elders, superiors, and strangers.

Health benefits

Sitting on the floor has many health benefits. It improves posture and strengthens core muscles. It also relieves pressure on the spine and joints, which reduces the risk of back pain and arthritis. Sitting cross-legged or in a kneeling position also helps to improve blood circulation and digestion.

Environmental sustainability

Koreans have always been conscious of environmental sustainability. Sitting on the floor requires less furniture and creates less waste than using chairs or tables. It also saves energy by reducing the need for heating or air conditioning.

Social norms

In Korea, social norms dictate that shoes should not be worn inside the house or public buildings. This is because shoes can carry dirt and bacteria from outside. Hence, sitting on the floor is a way to keep the floor clean and hygienic.

Cultural events

Koreans have many cultural events where sitting on the floor is an essential part of the tradition. For example, in a traditional Korean wedding, the bride and groom sit on cushions on the floor while the guests sit around them. In a Korean tea ceremony, guests sit on cushions on the floor while drinking tea and admiring nature.

Modern lifestyle

Despite the changes in lifestyle and modernization, many Koreans still prefer to sit on the floor. This is because it is comfortable and practical for daily activities such as eating, socializing, and working. Many Korean restaurants still have traditional low tables and cushions for customers to sit on.

Interior design

Sitting on the floor has inspired many Korean interior designers to create unique and modern designs that incorporate traditional elements. For example, many Korean homes have a small raised platform with cushions where people can relax or read a book.

Cultural identity

Sitting on the floor has become an integral part of Korean cultural identity. It distinguishes them from other cultures and shows their pride in their history and traditions. It also creates a sense of community and belonging among Koreans.

Education system

In Korea, students often sit on the floor during class. This is because it promotes discipline, concentration, and respect towards the teacher. It also encourages interaction among students and creates a more relaxed learning environment.

International influence

The Korean culture has gained international recognition in recent years due to its popularity in K-pop, K-drama, and Korean cuisine. Many foreigners have become interested in Korean culture, including the tradition of sitting on the floor. This has led to the spread of Korean-style furniture and interior design in other countries.


In conclusion, sitting on the floor is more than just a cultural tradition for Koreans. It represents their history, values, health, environment, and identity. It is a unique aspect of their lifestyle that has stood the test of time and continues to evolve with modernization. Whether you are a Korean or a foreigner, sitting on the floor is an experience that can bring people together and create lasting memories.

Why do Koreans like sitting on the floor?

Traditionally, in Korea, it was common for people to eat their meals while sitting on the floor in their homes. This practice was believed to promote a sense of tranquility and belonging, leading to a peaceful state of mind among those who participated.

Why do Asians sit on the floor?

The Okinawan habit of sitting on the floor is associated with health, mobility, and longevity. This tradition involves sitting on the floor to read, eat, converse, and relax, rather than using chairs, although it is becoming less common among the younger generation in Asia. You can also practice this habit at home.

Why are Koreans sleeping on the floor?

The introduction of ondol floor heating in Korea led to a common practice of sleeping on the floor. Before modern HVAC systems, people had to find ways to regulate their home temperatures. Ondol floor heating utilized smoke from fireplaces to warm the entire house from below the floor.

Do South Koreans sit on the floor?

In South Korea, there is a traditional way of dining where people sit on cushions on the floor and eat from a low table. The floor is heated with an underfloor heating system called ondol, and this practice is still prevalent in many restaurants across the country.

What are the don’ts in Korea?

It is important to recognize the unique qualities of Korean culture and language, and avoid comparing them to those of Japan or other East Asian cultures. It is also important to remain composed and refrain from outbursts of emotions during heated discussions.

What are some examples of rude behavior in Korea?

Behaviors that are considered impolite in your country are likely to be seen as impolite in Korea as well. Actions such as spitting, shouting, physically striking others, using foul language, and generally behaving in an obnoxious manner are considered rude in Korean culture.

Challenges of sitting on the floor

While sitting on the floor has many benefits, it can also present some challenges, especially for those who are not used to it. It requires a certain level of flexibility and mobility, and prolonged periods of sitting can cause discomfort or numbness in the legs. Additionally, sitting on hard surfaces can be uncomfortable, so cushions or mats are often used to provide support.

The future of sitting on the floor in Korea

As Korea continues to modernize, there is concern that the tradition of sitting on the floor may fade away. With the rise of Western-style furniture and lifestyle, many young Koreans may not see the value in sitting on the floor. However, there are efforts to promote and preserve this tradition through cultural events, education, and interior design. It remains to be seen how this cultural practice will evolve in the future.

Cultural differences in sitting habits

Sitting habits can vary widely across cultures. While Koreans sit on the floor, other cultures such as Japanese and Indian cultures have their own unique ways of sitting. In Japan, people sit on cushions placed on tatami mats or on low chairs called zaisu. In India, people sit cross-legged or in a lotus position on a mat or rug. These differences reflect each culture’s history, values, and environment.

The impact of COVID-19 on sitting habits

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on sitting habits around the world. With social distancing measures in place, many people have had to adapt to working and socializing from home. This has led to a rise in demand for ergonomic furniture that supports good posture and comfort during prolonged sitting. Additionally, with concerns about hygiene and cleanliness, there may be a shift towards more Western-style seating that allows for easier cleaning and disinfecting.

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