Etiquette – Korea Part II

How’s everyone’s first official work week going?

TBH it almost feels weird not to be in jammies during the day watching holiday movies with friends while having a snack. 😜

Well, on with today’s post.

Here’s Korean Etiquette – Part II

Photo credit: Vogue

Leave your red ink at home

Marker red for writing and drawing trace on white paper with soft tip
Photo credit: Google images

It’s bad luck to write someone’s name in red ink. In the past deceased people’s names were written in red ink in family registers and funeral banners. Legend has it that evil spirits hate red ink, so it became a custom.

Also, do not use the number four if at all possible – if giving gifts, do not give four of something. It is considered unlucky due to the similarity between the Korean word for death and the pronunciation of the word ‘four.’

Mr. & Mrs. Introductions by name 

If you’re meeting a Korean male that is older than you, he may introduce himself using “Mr.” plus his family name. Koreans are very conscious of using the proper title based on rank, so some men don’t want to be called by their first names. If he says his name is Mr. Kim, then that is fine to call him that. However, be aware when he introduces you to his wife that she may likely not be Mrs. Kim! No, it’s probably not from a messy divorce. When Koreans marry, the children take the father’s family name, but the wife gets to keep her family name.

Business card exchange

Photo credit: Google images

Receive the card with two hands. Look at it for a short time (5 – 15 seconds) to read it over and show that you are putting effort into reading the card. When you exchange business cards at a meeting, your first instinct may be to put it in your pocket or to write some notes on it. Please don’t do it! A Korean’s business card is a representation of that person, so make sure you pay it the proper respect.  

Pregnant, Elderly, Handicapped Seating

Photo credit: Google images

Mass transportation in Korea is some of the best in the world. To accommodate pregnant women, elderly, and handicapped, there are individual seats exclusively for these people on the buses and subways. It’s essential to be aware of them and not take the seats just because they are empty. You can identify the seats by looking for pictures directly above the seating area depicting the profiles of the three groups.

Dining & Food

  • Always wait to be seated by your host. If given the seat of honor (looking at the front door) it is polite to demonstrate a slight objection
  • Elders are served first and begin the dining process
  • Food and dining are important parts of Korean culture and are used to build relationships. Be sociable and work at shaping good associations for pleasure and business as they are interlinked
  • Don’t pour your own drink, although it is considered good manners to pour another’s. Women often pour for men but not for other women. Rather than refuse more drink (remember, Koreans don’t like outright refusal) leave your glass part full, as opposed to empty
  • Do not tip if you see a ‘no tipping’ sign
  • There are often prolonged periods of silence during Korean meals – socializing can happen once everyone has feasted
  • Don’t forget to pass and receive food with two hands or with just your right if it is supported by your left
  • When it comes to settling the bill, the invitee may offer to pay, but the host will generally pay for everyone.
  • If you are invited to continue after dinner with drinks or a party, don’t refuse this invitation.
  • Do not point with your chopsticks, or leave them sticking out of your bowl
  • The national drink of Korea is ‘Soju,’ a clear vodka-like drink that is generally 18-25% alcohol
  • It is considered inappropriate to walk and eat

Did I miss anything? If so, leave us a comment below.  

Sending relaxing weekend vibes! 💋

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