Planning a visit to South Korea? While we know you’re probably super excited about going off and exploring all there is to see in the country you might want to slow down and take a few minutes to remind yourself that it’s going to be different from back home. Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting South Korea to help you with your next trip.
1. Think everything to see is in Seoul
Although Seoul is definitely the first place everyone thinks of in South Korea and offers up a whole bunch of new and exciting things to see, you should try to head outside the city at least once during your trip. Whether this is a trip to Suwon in Gyeonggi Province or all the way to Busan it will be nice to see what happens outside the major hustle and bustle of Seoul.
2. Be afraid to try new food
If you’re heading to South Korea you probably aren’t planning on sticking to meals at McDonald’s the entire time but you should also try as much of the unique food as you possibly can. Try some hotteok fresh from a street stall, taste those chicken feet you see always see in K-Dramas, and sample as many varieties of kimchi you come across. We know you aren’t going to be a picky eater!
3. Speak loudly while in public
This one you definitely already know but just make sure you do this! On public transportation especially it can be seen as rude if you’re talking too loud so try your best to remember this one.
4. Pick a random seat on public transportation
You might get yelled at or receive some harsh looks if you sit in certain seats on public transportation. Whether it’s on the bus or on the subway there are areas marked off for the elderly and disabled, and just plopping down in one of these seats can come off as offensive.
5. Wear revealing clothes
Although things are changing, there are some styles of clothing that aren’t looked upon too favorably. Exposed shoulders or backs are considered fairly indecent and just say no to anything with a plunging neckline. On the other hand, it’s totally fine to show as much leg as you want!
6. Forget to take off your shoes
If you go anywhere, whether it’s a restaurant or someone’s home, and see a step up with a whole bunch of shoes laying around, don’t forget to take off your own kicks!
7. Assume everyone speaks English
We know you’re not learning Korean just to sing along to your favorite K-Pop songs so put those skills to good use if you find yourself in Korea!
8. Leave your chopsticks stuck in rice
We know you’ve likely heard about this one already but never ever do this. Upright chopsticks resemble the incense burnt at funerals and bringing up death at the dinner table is just not a good idea.
9. Use only one hand to give or receive things
Whether you’re giving gifts, receiving business cards, or even shaking hands, to show your respect you need to do these things with both hands!
10. Refuse drinks from your elders
Respect for your elders is a huge part of Korean culture so if your elder offers you a drink you are expected to take it whether or not you’re a big alcohol drinker. Even if the alcohol is replaced with water, the idea is not to refuse the gesture.
11. Dig right into your meal
On the same page as accepting a drink from your elder, it’s also a sign of respect to only start eating after your elder has done so first. Even if you’re stomach is demanding food, it’s important to resist the urge to dig right in. The same also goes for being excused from the table before your elders have finished eating.
12. Forget to have fun
While a lot of the things on this list have been about Korean culture, in general, it’s also important to remember to have fun! Maybe this means going off into areas that tourists don’t normally frequent or just going on a simple tour! Either way, the whole goal is to just have as much fun as possible!