South Korean Culture

Do's and Don'ts


  • Laugh with Koreans whenever possible as they enjoy sharing humour.
  • Make an effort to compliment what you like about Korea. This may help in giving you face.
  • Be aware of how you fit in the social hierarchy that Koreans observe. Discern who is superior to you based on age, position and family name, and show respect to each person as necessary. If you do not adhere to these expectations and fail to give a Korean the respect they are due, you may lose face in their eyes. You may even find that they wish to avoid you after.
  • Expect a Korean to be modest and subtly deny any compliments you give them.
  • Be sensitive to the hardship South Koreans have endured and sympathise about the situation in North Korea.


  • Avoid drawing parallels between the Korean culture or language to Japan. Korea should be acknowledged for its distinctiveness and difference from other East Asian cultures.
  • Avoid exhibiting anger or distress in heated displays or outbursts of emotion. Doing so may cause you to lose face.
  • Do not underestimate their knowledge and intelligence as the Korean population is very culturally educated and politically aware.

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