website free tracking Why don't Koreans wear shoes indoors? - Namhan South Korea

Why don’t Koreans wear shoes indoors?


Koreans have a unique practice of taking off their shoes before entering a house or a building. This custom is not only followed in residential homes but also in offices, schools, and even hospitals. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this interesting tradition.

Cultural Significance

The practice of removing shoes indoors is deeply rooted in Korean culture. Koreans consider shoes to be dirty as they come into contact with the ground outside, which is considered unclean. Therefore, taking off shoes is an act of respect and cleanliness towards the homeowners.

Pollution and Cleanliness

South Korea is a densely populated country, and the air quality is often poor. As a result, many Koreans are concerned about keeping their homes clean and free from pollutants. By removing shoes, they can prevent dirt and dust from being tracked inside and reduce the risk of airborne pollutants.

Traditional Flooring Materials

In traditional Korean homes, the floors are made of wood or heated ondol (underfloor heating). These materials can easily be damaged by shoes, so it makes sense to remove them before entering. Additionally, Koreans sit on the floor, so it’s more comfortable to walk around barefoot or in socks.

Hygiene Concerns

Along with pollution concerns, hygiene is another reason why Koreans remove their shoes indoors. It’s common for Koreans to sit on the floor and eat meals there, so keeping the floor clean is crucial for good health. Also, many Korean families have young children who often play on the floor.

Respecting Elders

In Korean culture, respecting elders is incredibly important. Removing shoes before entering someone’s home is seen as a sign of respect towards the homeowners and their property. It demonstrates that the guests value their host’s home and are willing to follow their rules and customs.


Removing shoes before entering a home can also be seen as a practical choice. It’s easier to keep the floors clean, and it reduces the need for constant vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping. Also, it’s more comfortable to walk around without shoes or in socks, especially during hot summer months.

Cultural Norms

Korean society is very conformist, and people tend to follow cultural norms strictly. The practice of removing shoes indoors is one such norm that has been followed for generations. Many Koreans believe that it’s important to maintain these customs to preserve their heritage and identity.

Superstition and Feng Shui

Some Koreans believe that wearing shoes indoors brings bad luck or negative energy into the home. This belief is based on traditional Korean superstitions and feng shui practices. Therefore, removing shoes is seen as a way to promote positive energy and good fortune.

Public Health Concerns

In recent years, there have been concerns about the spread of infectious diseases in public places such as hospitals and schools. By requiring visitors to remove their shoes before entering, these facilities can reduce the risk of spreading germs and bacteria.

Global Influence

The practice of removing shoes indoors is not unique to Korea. Many other cultures such as Japan, China, and some Scandinavian countries also follow this custom. With the rise of global travel and multiculturalism, this tradition is becoming more widespread outside of Korea.


In conclusion, there are many reasons why Koreans remove their shoes indoors. It’s a tradition deeply rooted in Korean culture that demonstrates respect towards others, promotes cleanliness and hygiene, and preserves cultural identity. As more people become aware of these practices, it’s likely that removing shoes indoors will become more widespread around the world.

Why do Asians not wear shoes in the house?

According to Chinese superstitions, bringing outdoor shoes inside the home is thought to bring bad luck or germs. It is also not common to walk barefoot indoors, with slippers or rubber sandals being the typical footwear of choice.

Why are Koreans rarely seen barefoot without socks inside the house do you have to wear socks all day long?

As it is customary for Koreans to remove their shoes when indoors, wearing socks is common practice. Therefore, it may have been considered impolite or rude to display bare feet in front of others according to tradition.

What cultures do not wear shoes in the house?

In various nations such as Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, Turkey, Japan, Korea, and others, it is customary to remove shoes upon entering someone’s home. Wearing shoes inside is viewed as a significant breach of etiquette in these countries.

What cultures remove their shoes before entering a house?

In many parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, it is customary to remove shoes before entering a home. Failing to do so can be seen as disrespectful to the host.

Why do Koreans leave their shoes outside?

When using a bathroom in Korea, it is common to wear rubber slippers to avoid slipping. It is considered impolite to enter someone’s home with shoes on, as it is seen as bringing dirt and filth inside from the outside world.

Is it rude to ask guests to remove shoes?

To ask guests to take off their shoes is considered acceptable etiquette. However, it’s important to inform guests beforehand or provide them with a pair of house shoes to wear if you request they remove their shoes.

Challenges of the Custom

While removing shoes indoors is an important custom in Korean culture, it can be challenging for foreigners or those who are not used to it. Visitors may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about taking off their shoes in front of others. Additionally, those with foot health issues may find it difficult to walk around barefoot or in socks.

Alternative Footwear

To address the challenges of removing shoes indoors, some Koreans provide alternative footwear such as slippers or indoor shoes for guests to wear. This allows visitors to follow the custom while still maintaining their comfort and hygiene. Some Korean households even have a designated area near the entrance where shoes can be stored and indoor shoes provided.

Modern Innovations

As Korea becomes more modernized, some newer buildings and homes are being designed with flooring materials that can withstand shoe wear. Additionally, some Koreans have started to wear indoor shoes that resemble outdoor shoes but are made specifically for indoor use. These innovations reflect a changing society while still honoring traditional customs.

Cultural Exchange

The practice of removing shoes indoors is a unique aspect of Korean culture that can be shared with others around the world. As more people travel to Korea or learn about its customs, they can adopt this practice in their own homes or workplaces. This cultural exchange promotes understanding and appreciation for different ways of life.

Final Thoughts

Removing shoes indoors is a fascinating tradition that reflects the values and beliefs of Korean culture. While it may seem like a small act, it has significant cultural, social, and practical implications. By understanding and respecting this practice, we can deepen our appreciation for the diversity of human customs and traditions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top