South Korea is one of the most developed countries in the world. Blessed with a sophisticated urban culture, South Korea is, nevertheless, too mindful of certain behaviors and actions that must be absolutely avoided in case you are planning to visit this country.

South Korean society, like many other East Asian societies, is undergoing a gradual transition from traditionalism to modernity, and when you are there in the country, you might find yourself attracting unwanted attention over some unintentional gestures and behaviors.

Five cultural mistakes to avoid in South Korea

In this article, we have enumerated five cultural mistakes you should never make when in South Korea:

  1. Do not be too loud on public transportation

South Korean people do not like people who too talk too loudly while on public transportation. It is highly recommended that you avoid being too noisy as it is considered rude and locals may actually call out to you and embarrass you.

In order to avoid such embarrassing situations, avoid talking on the phone as much as possible. You will save yourself from the ire of Korean locals.

  1. Never start or finish your food before an elderly

South Korean society is largely conservative in nature, and, in many families, you will notice strict adherence to certain traditional attitudes. So, it is highly recommended you ensure that you give due respect to the most venerable—the elders.

Even if you are starving hungry, it is super important you do not start or finish your food at the table before elders do. If you do the contrary, you will be rejected as a disrespectful brat undeserving of any good service or hospitality.

So, ladies and gentleman, mind your table manners!

  1. Do not refuse a drink with an elder

This may sound funny, but this is totally true. Even if you are not really alcoholic, when an older gentleman offers you a shot of soju, you better not refuse it.

The underlying idea is that one must respect a social gesture, and if you do not do the same, you will be branded as a rude, impolite human.

  1. Do not pay for the second round

Well, it is simple as this: if you are out with Korean locals for dinner or drinks, then you may happen to have someone in your group offer to foot the entire bill. Let him pay the bill, all right. But, there is a caveat.

If there is a second serving, then it is not that person’s job to pay the bill anymore—it is someone else’s in the group.

Remember it is considered a really important gesture in informal meetings and should not be disregarded at all.

  1. Receiving or giving with one hand

When you receive or give a gift to anyone, or when you are shaking hands, it is regarded customary to hold the gift or the hand with both of your hands. Korean locals consider it as a sign of gratitude and pleasure.

So, accept gifts with both hands—you will be happier.


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