South Korean Culture


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.
  • Koreans are reasonably punctual and usually prompt. They tend to try and make the most of the time they have. In certain settings, this can come across as impatient.

  • 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.

  • 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.
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South Korea
  • Population
    [Census, 2015]
  • Language
    Korean (official)
  • Religion
    No Religion (56.9%)
    Protestant Christianity (19.7%)
    Buddhism (15.5%)
    Catholic Christianity (7.9%)
    [Census, 2015]
  • Ethnicity
    Korean (96%)
    Foreign nationals (2.7%)
    [Census, 2015]
  • Cultural Dimensions
  • Australians with Korean Ancestry
    123,017 [Census, 2016]
Koreans in Australia
  • Population
    [Census, 2016]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in South Korea.
  • Median Age
    32 [Census, 2016]
  • Gender
    Male (46.9%)
    Female (53.1%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Religion
    Catholic Christianity (38.9%)
    Anglican Christianity (32.1%)
    Christianity [not defined] (5.9%)
    Presbyterian and Reformed Christianity (5.9%)
    Other Religion (11.5%)
    No Religion (2.3%)
    Not Stated (2.5%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Ancestry
    Korean (95.0%)
    English (2.1%)
    Australian (1.0%)
    Chinese (0.7%)
    Other Ancestry (1.2%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Korean (90.1%)
    English (8.7%)
    Mandarin (0.3%)
    Other (0.6%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 66.2% speak English fluently.
    [Census, 2016]
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (56.1%)
    Queensland (16.8%)
    Victoria (13.7%)
    Western Australia (5.5%)
    Other (7.9%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2007 (46.4%)
    2007 - 2011 (23.5%)
    2012 - 2016 (25.3%)
    [Census, 2016]
Country Flag Country South Korea