South Korean Culture

Etiquette

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Basic Etiquette
  • In Korea, people rarely thank one another for gestures of courtesy (e.g. holding open doors), nor do they generally apologise if they bump into one another on the street. Australians may interpret this as being rude or disrespectful behaviour, but keep in mind that Koreans consider such minor incidents or manners to be actions that one should anticipate and expect in life. Therefore, they generally do not require a profuse apology, a ‘thank you’ or even acknowledgement. Respect is exhibited in different ways.
  • Respect should always be shown to those that are older than you. This involves deferring to their opinion, waiting for their input and lowering your gaze if they are an elder.
  • Object, gifts and food should be offered and received with two hands.
  • Remove your hat when indoors.
  • It is best practice to remove your shoes before entering a Korean home.

Eating
  • It is considered inappropriate for adults to eat while walking, so street food is often eaten on the spot where it is bought.
  • Food should not be eaten with one’s fingers.
  • Spoons are used to eat soup, but chopsticks are used for everything else.
  • Do not blow your nose at the dinner table.
  • The eldest person should be served first. Everyone seated should then wait for them to begin eating before doing so.

Drinking
  • South Korea has a large drinking culture. Drinking can give status, proving one’s stamina and machismo (particularly for men).
  • If you do not want to participate in drinking, try to give a sincere reason such as medical or religious grounds. Do not make an excuse that could be interpreted as the morals of those drinking.
  • Avoid emptying your glass if you’ve had enough to drink.
  • Fill others’ glasses before your own. In a formal setting, do not fill your own drink and instead wait for someone else to return the gesture and fill yours.
South Korea
  • Population
    49,512,026
    0.68% of World Population
  • Languages
    Korean (official)
    English
  • Religions
    No Religion (43.3%)
    Christianity (31.6%)
    Buddhism (24.2%)
    Other (0.9%)
  • Ethnicities
    Korean (96%)
    Other (4%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (54.52%)
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 60
    Individualism 18
    Masculinity 39
    Uncertainty Avoidance 85
    Long Term Orientation 100
    Indulgence 29
    What's this?
  • Australians with Korean Ancestry
    88,973
Koreans in Australia
  • Population
    98,776
    [2016 census]
  • Average Age
    32
  • Gender
    Male (46.1%)
    Female (53.9%)
  • Religion
    No Religion (24.3%)
    Catholic Christianity (22.4%)
    Presbyterian and Reformed Christianity (21.6%)
    Uniting Church Christianity (10.1%)
    Other (21.5%)
  • Ancestry
    Korean (94.9%)
    English (1.4%)
    Australian (1%)
    Other (1.4%)
  • Languages
    Korean (89.3%)
    English (9.3%)
    Mandarin (0.3%)
    Other (0.7%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (65.1)%)
    Not Well (33.5%)
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (56.1%)
    Queensland (16.8%)
    Victoria (13.7%)
    Western Australia (5.5%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (36.1%)
    2001-2006 (25%)
    2007-2011 (32.3%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country KR Flag