Skip Nav

10 Korean customs to know before you visit Korea

Language Translation Services From Kwintessential

❶The traditional practice of kimjang , in which villages and families devoted several days in the autumn to preparing the winter supply of kimchi, is celebrated in such annual kimjang festivals as that held in the southwestern city of Kwangju. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.

We Proudly Support These Educational Associations

Korean Customs and Beliefs
Navigation menu
Alternative Names

Sometimes people mix soju and beer and call it "So-Mack," so for soju , and Mack for beer , since beer is called "Maek-joo" in Korean.

K-pop often features young performers. In the s and s, many musicians appeared, such as Cho Yong Pil , a renowned musician from that period. He used many sources such as the synthesizer. Among his influence, he is well known for popularizing rock music. The popularization of Korean pop music has come from many sources including, YouTube and other video streaming sources.

With the growth of social media, it has helped with the expansion of K-pop globally. K-pop became one of Korea's top exporting industries with its rapid and wide spread popularity around the world particularly in the East. Korean popular culture has a timely commercial combination of: The emergence of the group Seo Taiji and Boys in marked a turning point for Korean popular music, by incorporating elements of American popular musical genres of the s.

To illustrate, their popularity was based on innovative hybridization of music as they creatively mixed the genres like rap, soul, rock and roll, techno, punk, hardcore and even ppongjjak, and invented a unique musical form which 'employs rap only during the verses, singing choruses in a pop style' with dynamic dance movements.

They showed how Korean rap would sound. Consequently, Seo Taiji and Boys expanded the scope of K-pop. In BoA became the first Korean pop star to break through in Japan following the fall of barriers that had restricted the import and export of entertainment between the countries since the end of World War II. For that reason,she was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador, and has since contributed to restoring the good relations between Japan and South Korea.

These dance crazes would often spread quickly throughout Asia, inspiring many people to imitate them in talk shows, commercials, and even political campaigns. Because of their addictive sound and inspired dance crazes, some of these songs have subsequently won musical awards, such as the "Song of the Year". In addition, there is also traditional Korean pop music, or trot.

However, trot has recently experienced a resurgence due to the popularity of Jang Yoon Jeong , a young semi-trot star, who had a breakout hit with "Omona. Noraebang is even conducted in transport vehicles such as tourist buses.

Recently, a coin karaoke, which is a form of payment different from the existing karaoke, appeared. There are approximately 70, Korean students in American colleges every year.

Furthermore, increased immigration has reached to booming heights of over a million in alone. With these migrations have come the spread and expansion of Korean Popular culture. Known as the "Korean Wave", Hallyu in the United States and alike has led to Korean movies, art, fashion, and music reaching popularity like never before. One of the reasons for the success of the Korean Wave comes from the influence the Korean government has in the production and distribution of popular culture.

Recent years have led to changes in access to both enjoying and creating new songs, movies, and other types of popular culture. Furthermore, reconfiguring Korean elements into more Westernized ideas has helped increase popularity. One example comes from recent collaboration with the Korean Government and others to help achieve glocalization, making hallyu approachable and enjoyable for people from many different cultures and backgrounds.

Since the success of the Korean film Shiri in , Korean film has become much more popular, both in South Korea and abroad. Today South Korea is one of the few countries where Hollywood productions do not enjoy a dominant share of the domestic market.

This fact, however, is partly due to the existence of screen quotas requiring cinemas to show Korean films at least 73 days a year. Shiri was a film about a North Korean spy preparing a coup in Seoul. The film was the first in Korean history to sell more than two million tickets in Seoul alone. The success of Shiri motivated other Korean films with larger budgets. With the release of the Korean film Shiri, it attracted 5.

These numbers out scored the local theater attendance for the American made film from Hollywood, Titanic. The venture capital firm, KDB Capital was the main firm that invested money into the production of Shiri.

This is what helped spark the Korean governments interest in the possible profits that can be awarded through the entertainment industry. In the film Joint Security Area was a huge success and even surpassed the benchmark set by Shiri. One year later, the film Friend managed the same. Park Chan-wook , the director of Joint Security Area , has gone on to direct many popular films in Korea and abroad, and is especially known for the cult film of , Oldboy.

Kim Ki-Duk is also a well-respected filmmaker and is known for using minimal dialogue between characters to create an emotional response from the audience. As of , new films continue to break records, and many Korean productions are more popular than Hollywood films. The other is a blockbuster movie about the Korean War directed by the director of Shiri.

The Host part monster movie, part social satire broke Korean box office records and has become fairly popular in the United States as well. This success attracted the attention of Hollywood. Films such as Shiri are now distributed in the United States. In , Miramax bought the rights to an Americanized remake of the successful Korean action comedy movie, My Wife is a Gangster. Many Korean films also reflect the unique circumstances of the division and reunification of Korea.

Korean television and especially the short form dramatic mini-series colloquially called "dramas" by Koreans have become extremely popular outside of Korea. Dramas were foremost among cultural exports driving the Korean Wave trend in Asia and elsewhere.

Although the Korean state is divided into two different countries, traditional culture and customs are shared by both the countries. Music, dance, painting, literature and crafts are important parts of the Korean culture. The customs of the Korean people are discussed in detail in this article. Until , Korea was a single country on the world map but political unrest resulted in a division of the region into two countries with different political ideologies.

However, culture and traditional values of the region still bind these two countries with each other. The Korean language is spoken in both the countries and a similar family system is followed in both countries.

Globalization has made certain changes to the family patterns and social structure, predominantly in South Korea because of its flexible policies, which is not the case with North Korean politics. As good and old habits die hard, both the Korean countries are still deeply rooted in their culture and traditions.

Influenced by the philosophical brilliance of Confucius, Koreans believe in family, community and society, unlike western ideology of individualism. Family is the most important part of Korean society and they lead a family oriented life where the father is the head of the family. Families following Confucius and his teachings firmly believe that the father must take care of the health, shelter, food and marriage of his family members.

Hierarchical structure is evident in a conventional Korean family. The eldest son will help his father in all the family matters, must obey his father and follow his decisions. The old school says that womenfolk must not indulge in decision making and only males must handle the external affairs. However, this thinking pattern is changing with time as more and more women are emerging as leaders, business executives and teachers.

Individual dreams and needs are secondary and family welfare is the first and foremost goal of every family member. South Korea blends business with spirituality seemlessly ]. If you are considering doing business in South Korea, or with a South Korean, it is essential to understand their culture and business etiquette to maximise your potential and avoid any unnecessary awkwardness.

Korean culture is profoundly influenced by Confucian principles and this pervades not only personal lives, but also business. Confucianism supports group harmony, respect for elders and authority, the importance of family, friendship and ancestors, and also, tradition.

Kibun equivalent to face, or honour is highly significant to Koreans and they will always attempt to maintain their Kibun, or personal dignity. Confrontation is to be avoided at all cost as once Kibun is lost it cannot be regained. In South Korea, good relationships are crucial to success both in personal and business circles, and these are assimilated within the business world.

To make the most of your business acumen you must also appear trustworthy, honourable and respectable in a social and business setting. Korean business is founded upon relationships; even large corporations are often family managed with members still acting in executive positions. The Confucian principles regarding respect for age, family, rank and tradition have ensured the continuance of this system.

There have been recent calls for reforms, due to economic downturns, in Korea but this will take time due to the entrenched systems in place. Alongside the formal power structures in place within a company one must learn to recognise, and assess, the informal structures which may be based on long-standing family ties, personal relationships and allegiances.

Insight into these practises will ensure a greater comprehension of Korean business etiquette. Thank you for reading our guide to South Korea.

We hope you found it useful. If you have anything to add to our country profile please contact us as we are keen to ensure accuracy. Take the Culture Vulture's Quiz on South Korea and see how much you have learnt about the country, its people and culture. You have 3 minutes to complete it - go on, test yourself!

The page document has been authored by one of our South Korea country specialists and provides readers with much more detail that our free guide above. Order via the button below to receive your South Korea Insight in seconds or read more before buying! Below are some of our blogs which look at South Korea:

Meeting and greeting

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

여보! (Hello) and Welcome to our Guide to South Korean Culture, Customs, Business Practices & Etiquette. In a country where almost half the population have the same last name, you may be forgiven for becoming a little confused about who is who and what is what.

Privacy FAQs

Guide To South Korea - Etiquette, Customs, Culture & Business Welcome to our helpful guide for South Korea. Should you be looking to travel, live, relocate or do business in the sovereign state, we will give you a helpful head start on understanding the country and its cultures.

About Our Ads

Korea is a drinking culture, and their national booze is soju, a clear, vodka-like drink. Soju is drunk out of shot glasses, and like all liquor in Korea, it’s always served with food. South Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula, which protrudes about miles (1, kilometers) southward from the Eurasian landmass between Soviet Siberia in the northeast and Chinese Manchuria to the north.

Cookie Info

South Korea - Daily life and social customs: The once-dominant Confucian culture—with its emphasis on respect for ancestors, age, and seniority—continues to influence Korean family, work, and social life, albeit to a lesser degree than in the past. Korea – Divided by Boundaries, United by Culture. Until , Korea was a single country on the world map but political unrest resulted in a division of the region into .