Tuesday June 2, 2009 02:16

Learn about the DOs and DON’Ts in Korea.

Posted by hying

I got this information from the Seoul City Guide (Published by Lonely Planet) which I bought. It’s a good guide book especially for those first time travelers who are going to Seoul, Korea.

The guide book provides information like the directions, the opening hours and the price range of each individual shops, restaurants and hotels. The book also include simple Korean language phrases and vocabulary for your easy reference where you can use them when you are in Korea. Last but not least, as the book is small, it is easy and convenient for packing and carrying around.

Shoe off
In temples, private homes, Korean-style restaurants, guesthouse and yeogwan (small family-run hotels) you should take off your shoes and leave them by the front door. Wearing socks is more polite than bare feet, particularly in temples.

Losing face
It is important to bear in mind the Korean concept of gibun (face/harmony – individual  and group). Great efforts are made to smooth over potential problems; if you say something silly, there will be, at the most, an embarrassed laugh before someone steers the topic on to safer ground. Arguments or any situation that leads to one party having to back down will involve a loss of face, and this is a huge no no.

Keep it neat
Here  you are judged by your appearance, more so than in the West. Travelers who dress like  slobs will be treated with less respect than someone dressed casually but neatly. This is particularly apparent in Seoul, and out of towners always dress up to come to the capital city.

A short nod or bow is considered polite and respectful when greeting somebody of when departing, but don’t overdo it.

Gift giving
It’s customary to bring along a small gift when visiting somebody at their home. It can be almost anything – flowers, chocolates, fruits, a book, a bottle of liquor, tea or something from your home country. It’s also appropriate to have your offering gift wrapped.
You host may at first refuse (so as not to look greedy). You should insist that they take it, and they  should accept it ‘reluctantly’. For the same reason, the recipient of a gift is not supposed to open the package immediately. Receive gifts using both hands.

Body language & Respect
Don’t use your forefinger to beckon someone. Put out your hand, palm down (palm up is for animals) and flutter all your fingers.
Don’t force eye contact, which can make a Korean extremely uncomfortable; they will also likely angle themselves ever so slightly rather than face you directly (and don’t cross your legs).

Embarrassed smiles
If a driver almost runs over you then stops and gives you a big grin. The driver is not laughing at you – it’s a sign of embarrassment, a form of apology and a gestures of sympathy.

Source From: Lonely Planet – Seoul city Guide

Lonely Planet is having a 30% offer now on their Korea Pack Guide (which includes Korea Travel Guide, Korean Phrasebook and Seoul City Guide)

1 Response to Learn about the DOs and DON’Ts in Korea.


Janet Anthony

November 15th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

My son whom is 16 years old will be visiting Seoul together with his friends under the exchange students program soon. Just want to get some ideas on what are the preparation he has to do prior to arrivil Seoul. This is his first time visiting Korea.
TQ very much for your kind respond.

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