Korean Etiquette 101: What and What Not to Do When in Seoul By: Katya of Team Larga

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Each country has its own culture, and South Korea is no different. To avoid offending or disrespecting anyone, knowing the do’s and don’ts in this modern but traditional country is a must. Here are some of the basic Korean etiquette you should remember, from taking age differences seriously to practicing different kinds of bows.

Paying at a Restaurant

Korean Etiquette 101: What and What Not to Do When in Seoul | Find the Best Travel and Tours in the Philippines at Larga.ph
Korean Barbecue (Shutterstock/Taddown Kamyodjai)

Restaurant staff will mark your order on the check placed on your table. Once you’re done eating, proceed to the counter to pay for your meal. You don’t need to call the restaurant staff or waiter to hand over your bill.

When Entering a Home or Restaurant

Korean Etiquette 101: What and What Not to Do When in Seoul | Find the Best Travel and Tours in the Philippines at Larga.ph
Remove your shoes upon entering a house or a traditional-style restaurant (Shutterstock/Park Kyungwon)

Just like in many Asian countries, guests should remove their shoes upon entering a house or traditional-style restaurant. You may use the provided slippers by the door or just wear your socks inside. Restaurants where customers sit on the floor and eat on a low table require their guests to take off their shoes.

Bowing

Korean Etiquette 101: What and What Not to Do When in Seoul | Find the Best Travel and Tours in the Philippines at Larga.ph
A couple doing the 90-degree bow to give respect to elders (Shutterstock/wizdata)

Just like in many Asian countries, guests should remove their shoes upon entering a house or traditional-style restaurant. You may use the provided slippers by the door or just wear your socks inside. Restaurants where customers sit on the floor and eat on a low table require their guests to take off their shoes.

Formal and Informal Speech

Korean Etiquette 101: What and What Not to Do When in Seoul | Find the Best Travel and Tours in the Philippines at Larga.ph
Know the different suffixes to use when talking to your friends & people older than you (Shutterstock/KPG_jsco)

Drop the suffixes “yo”, “nida”, or “nikka” when communicating with friends, people younger than you, or close family members. When talking to someone older than you, make sure to talk politely by using formal language and appending these suffixes to your sentences.

Drinking Alcohol

Korean Etiquette 101: What and What Not to Do When in Seoul | Find the Best Travel and Tours in the Philippines at Larga.ph
Drinking alcohol is a huge part of Korean culture (Shutterstock/galmegi)

They have a lot of rules when it comes to drinking. If there’s one rule you must remember, it’s to never pour your own drink. Let others refill your glass and make sure no glass runs empty. When drinking with bosses, business partners, or people older than you, turn sideways to chug your drink. Always receive drinks with both hands.

Manner Hands

Korean Etiquette 101: What and What Not to Do When in Seoul | Find the Best Travel and Tours in the Philippines at Larga.ph
Try not to touch the waist or shoulder of someone you've just met when posing for a photo (Shutterstock/wizdata)

Koreans feel uncomfortable when touched in public, even if it’s just putting your arms over the shoulders of another person, especially someone you’ve just met. Instead, they prefer to use manner hands when posing for the camera. Manner hands refer to a respectful way of placing your hands over another’s shoulder or waist without actually touching those areas.

Armed with knowledge on Korean etiquette, you’ll surely avoid awkward situations Korean etiquette during your sojourn in Seoul. Book a trip to Seoul, South Korea through Larga.ph.