Common Korean etiquette you need to know before traveling to South Korea

Traveling to South Korea soon? Before you embark on your journey, It is essential to familiarize yourself with some of the Korean etiquettes to make your visit enjoyable and respectful. By adopting these common manners, you can express your appreciation for the country and its people.

Here are some of the Korean etiquette you need to know before traveling to South Korea:

Removing your shoes indoors

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It is very common in Asian households to remove shoes before entering someone’s home. It is also done in Korea. When you travel, your temporary home will either be a hotel, guesthouse, or an Airbnb and they all follow the same etiquette. Some traditional restaurants also require you to remove shoes. No need to worry that you might miss doing it because as you enter most homes, you will often see a designated area where you can leave your shoes. 

Greeting through bowing

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Bowing is a big part of South Korean culture. It's a way to show respect, and you'll frequently see people bowing when they meet or part ways. As a visitor, you don't have to bow as deeply as the locals do, but a small bow when you say hello or thank someone is a nice way to be polite and show respect.

Public behavior in indoor spaces

 © JTBC - Miss Hammurabi

When your in indoor spaces like subways, buses, and alike, avoid loud voices and make your conversations short and concise. It is a general rule to be quiet on indoor spaces like this and it is considered rude if you don’t follow it. 

Refrain from sticking up utensils on your bowl of rice

 © JTBC - Interest of Love

There are a lot of Korean dining etiquette but if you’re not interacting with a local, it’s not much needed to follow it. But among them, the one thing that you should not really do is sticking up your chopsticks or spoon vertically on your bowl of rice while dining at a restaurant. This custom is typically only observed during funerals or "jesa,” a service held in memory of someone who has passed away, where food is offered. Foreigners should refrain from doing it as it can be seen as impolite and disrespectful.

No tipping culture

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In South Korea, it's not common to give tips. Unlike other countries where tipping service workers is common, in South Korea, it is not expected and can even be seen as rude. If you offer a tip, it might be declined or make people feel uncomfortable.

By embracing these common etiquettes, you not only display your regard for local traditions but also ensure a more enjoyable journey. While South Koreans are typically understanding of tourists who mean well, showcasing cultural awareness and courtesy will make your journey even more memorable.

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