As we all know, before going to visit another country it is advisable to educate ourselves on the locals’ culture and etiquettes as every country is different. Here are some etiquettes that you must know if you’re thinking of visiting Korea anytime soon.
Wait for elders to eat before you do
In Korea, age (나이) is a very important factor. When eating, it is very respectful to wait for the oldest member to start eating and this also applies to finishing your meal (식사). This usually applies to family and business dinners. However, this is not so important to carry on among friends.
Avoid using personal names until you really know the person
There are some Koreans who will happily tell you their full names and are cool with being called by their personal (first) name. however, if you just met each other or are in a professional surrounding like work, it is best to address them by their surname.
For example. Mr. Kim, Mr. Park, etc. In Korea, if you want to call someone use their full name, you have to add “shi” (씨) at the back. For example, Park Jimin – shi (박지민 씨). This essentially means Mr./ Mrs./ Miss. It’s most common and general honorific, and your go to for someone who you’re unfamiliar with.
When shaking hands, use both hands
Handshakes (Pre- Covid19) are sign of respect in Korea and doing it incorrectly can be considered rude by the locals. When shaking hands in Korea, shake with one hand and place the other hand somewhere between your wrist or elbow to show respect and politeness.
Another tip is to at least try to bow while shaking hands. It’s better if you bow towards the same level as the other person.
Avoid close, physical contact at first encounters
In Korea society, shoulder pats and especially hugging are not really acceptable between strangers. If you initiate skin ship to someone you just met, you will probably make them feel uncomfortable if you try to do this.
Handshakes are great, but physical contact is mostly reserved for family (가족) and friends (친구).