South Korean culture bases on Confucianism which lasted 600 years old. Along with that, when we travel, work, study or live in Korea, we should pay attention to some South Korean culture or manners. This will help us quickly adapt to life as well as people here. Also, these manners or rituals are quite similar to the ones in Vietnamese society and also, we need to behave carefully. Therefore, in this article, All Know-How introduce South Korean cultures that we should be aware of our behaviors and actions in society.
1. South Korean Culture In Public
– Do not blow our nose or spit in public – very impolite.
– When traveling by any public transport, we should not laugh or talk loudly but keep quiet, avoid affecting others. In addition, we should give seats to the elderly and pregnant women. This keeps us from receiving bad looks from everyone. Besides, do not call too long on the bus or subway.
– Do not stare or point at other people in public.
– Queue anytime, anywhere, when waiting for the bus or for payment or purchase as well.
– Sitting on the first row of the seat on the bus, we must not talk (with the person next to us) or call. Because it will affect the driver in the front, causing the driver to lose focus when driving.
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2. South Korean Culture In The Temple
– Entering the temple in Korea, we should avoid going through the main door. It is polite if we enter via the door at the side of the temple and leave our shoes outside.
– We should not sit or stand in front of the main Buddha statue but sit on the side.
– Make sure our hair is tied neatly and our dress is polite.
3. South Korean Culture When Visiting A Korean Home
-It is necessary to put our shoes and sandals outside because most Korean people clean their houses very carefully. Even those who have their own dining tables, they still rest, chat and watch television … on the floor. Many eateries, especially Korean traditional restaurants, still have tables and mattresses on the ground. Hence, we must take off their shoes to have our meals. So, before going out, make sure that we are wearing a pair of clean socks and our feet are not smelly.
– Prepare a small gift to express our sincerity and thank for the invitation of the owner.
– If we want to go around their house or touch any items, we must have an admission from the owner first.
4. South Korean Culture While Having Meals
Before the meals
Koreans often do not hold their bowl but put it on the table and use chopsticks and spoons for food. Meanwhile, the Japanese or Vietnamese hold their bowl when eating. This action depends on the perception of each country. If the Japanese said: “Only dogs … face down the bowl when eating”, the Koreans also say “Only beggars hold the bowl up while eating!” Today, this convention is also more open. Thus, if we are unfamiliar with Korean table manner, we can say. And then, we can eat in Vietnamese table manner. However, the Korean rice bowls are often made of iron to keep the heat, so when holding, we should pay attention to so that we do not get burned.
How to arrange a Korean dining table
Rice is on the left, hot soup or dishes with full of water on the right. Cold and dry dishes are on the left. Kimchi dishes are in the middle of the table. Meat dishes are on the right, vegetables are on the left. Place the spoon and chopsticks on the right-hand side, put the chopsticks right next to the spoon.
During the meals
– Do not put chopsticks in the rice bowl. Just like in some countries, putting the chopsticks in the rice bowl makes the rice bowl is like the worshiping one. So, we have to be careful to whom we give the rice bowl. If we put the chopsticks in their rice bowl, they will think that you are cursing them.
– We must not lay the spoon downwards, always put the spoon with its head upward. Additionally, do not set or place the chopsticks or spoon on the bowl.
– When we are eating, we must not make noise. Pay attention to the chopsticks and spoon, as we must not let them collide, avoiding making noise.
– It would be great if we do not use chopsticks and spoons to mix rice and food. Also, do not choose the food you do not eat. More importantly, do not shake the seasons used to marinating food to pick up food.
– While we finish eating, do not leave the leftover on the chopsticks and spoon.
– After eating, put chopsticks and spoons in the original position.
Other table manners
– In everyday life, when they have become a “team” or “a group,” they can use a spoon to scoop and eat in a common bowl, such as tuenchang soup or kimchi soup. But in a formal dining with senior or elderly people, it is the best to use a private spoon.
– Koreans talk less when eating. So, it is usual if the Korean do not say anything during the meal. Some of Koreans who think that talking when eating is impolite, not respecting the individual’s right of the opposite.
– When having meals with adults: Let them sit inside, away from the door. Keep sitting nicely in front of the adults. Wait for them to start eating first and then we begin. Besides, we should keep the pace of eating equal to the adults. After the adult has finished eating and stands up, we also should do. The table manners must be kept when the family gathers to eat and drink. However, if we eat after the elderly in the family stop eating, other people have to hold chopsticks.
5. South Korean Culture In Drinking Alcohol
-The Korean way of drinking has a few manners or rules, usually related to the hierarchy between the people drinking in company with another. Pouring wine for ourselves is often not considered as a polite gesture. Another person will pour wine, and the recipient must raise the glass. If the person who pours wine or receiver has the lower position than the other (for example, senior and junior, upper and lower, older and younger), raise the other hand, place it in front of the chest or support the elbow to show respect. When a person pours alcohol for others, the wine glass should not have alcohol but shallow. The recipient can quickly drink the rest of the wine before receiving the new from the person who pours the wine.
– As in Vietnam, in Korea, it is possible to use a sole wine glass for the whole table. Or the Korean can drink in a pair. A person who wants to invite someone to drink, give his glass to that person, and pour the wine. When finishing, the invited person usually responds with a similar process.
– If we want to pour alcohol for someone else, we have to wait for him to drink up the rest in the glass. Then we can pour the new one. The Korean do not pour wine into the glass with wine left.
6. South Korean Culture In Payment After Meals
– When an older Korean invites us to eat, they usually pay for the meal. In this case, the insistence on payment is sometimes impolite. But if we want to express our gratitude, before the meal we need to tell them the reason and show our willingness to invite them to eat.
– When we go to eat with our friends or the younger in the spirit of “eat together”, we should behave depending on the situation. If we meet often, there will be an implicit rule “today I pay, tomorrow he returns.” Nevertheless, nowadays, the young in Korea are more likely to live in a fairness manner like the Western lifestyle. So, in many cases, they will ask us to pay for our own dishes.
7. Some other Things To Note
– Do not write our name with the red pen – this is quite similar in Vietnam. Koreans think that only the dead have their name written in red ink. Thus, this is the taboo in writing our name when coming to Korea.
– When we give something to an older person, we have to give it by two hands.
– When taking a taxi with an older person, the formal position is not the front seat next to the driver but the rear seat at the corner. Koreans believe that the front row is for “the server”. When the vehicle stops, the person in the front opens the door for the elder or the senior sitting behind.
These are South Korean culture we must know so that we can quickly get familiar with life here. Like in Vietnam, we should respect and behave in accordance with these manners to show respect to others. This indicates that we are polite people and want to live in harmony with others. For other interesting topics, follow and read other articles at All Know-How.