20 Basic Things To Know Before Travelling To Korea!

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In this article we will share to you the 20 basic local things you need to know before you travel to Korea or meet with your korean friends. Let’s dig right into this basic korean culture you want to know.

1. Use two hands as you take or give something

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This is a basic rule you need to know as you receive or give something to korean people. Some people are quiet sensitive that they might be offended if you are using one hand as you give or take something from them, especially if they’re older than you. Bowing is another way you can show respect in Korea.

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Alternatively, in case you are doing handshake, you can use your right hand to do the hand shake and the left for holding your right forearm, this way it will show respect and feels more polite.

2. Be mindful when you eat with someone

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If you are a first goer to korea, then you might not realize that there’s some common etiquette and table manner that you need to do, or you might offend them unconciously.

First, always show respect to the person who eat or drink with you, before eating, say ‘I will eat well or Jal Meokget Sseum ni da’ and ‘I ate well or Jal Meogeot sseum ni da’ as you finish your food. This way, you show your gratitude for the people giving you food.

Other than that, make sure the oldest person eat first and you can follow as they eat. In case you are drinking with a Korean, then you can let them pour the soju in your cup and vice versa, pour the soju to their cup afterwards.  

Second, never let your chopstick stand straight as you eat your meal, and it will be much better to use spoon to eat rice rather than a chopsticks, you can use chopsticks for the side dishes.

Third, don’t lift your meal bowl as you eat or slurping your soup, keep them stay on the table as you eat. Here’s some korean table manner you might want to see.

3. Card payment is King in Korea

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You can almost pay everything through card payment in South korea, except in street vendor. This way, Korea encourage ‘go green’ and simplicity. However, in case there’s additional admin or rate fees as you using credit card in Korea, then you can still use cash payment as the alternative.

4. Never sit on priority seat unless you're qualified

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Credit to @gu____9

While this might be everywhere all around the world, in Korea, youth are really obedient to this rule, as the culture is emphasize respect to the elder. You will not find any Korean youth sitting on this seat especially during busy hour.

This seat is special for the old people, disable, pregnant and the sick person, with some different color. The pregnant seat usually colored in pink and yellow for the elder, person with baby or disable.

5. Don't be surprise with the 'ass to ass' during rush hour

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During busy hour like early morning as people go to work or back from work, you can expect to stand ass to ass with the other people. Especially in Seoul, this sight and experience is a common experience, so just learn to enjoy the experience or avoid the rush hour.

6. Super busy and fast

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All of us knew that korea is well known as a fast country, fast development, fast lifestyle culture, fast in everything, including the internet. Korea is one of the fastest internet connectivity in the world.

If you are slow in the public transportation, you might be push by a stranger. Note that the driver will not waiting for you to get your seat or hold your hands to the pole. They will just drive as you get in, so learn to get used to it and don’t feel offended.

One thing great about this fast paced culture other than internet connectivity is that Korea is super fast in delivery, you can expect super fast delivery if you order some food or stuff online.

The downside is that this fast paced lifestyle is super competitive and stressed out, because if you don’t keep on your paced, you will be left behind, alone, with no one, and gone to eternity, especially in workplace.

7. Becareful of Stalker and Weird Religious Cult Member

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Korea development is super fast, including in religious areas. There’s a lot weird teaching as well as good teaching out there looking for member.

If you ever been invited by a stranger to visit their house for a religious meeting, you better avoid and don’t listen to what they have to say, they won’t let you go once you allow them to talk with you. It’s better to avoid them and even just go away.

Other than religious cult people, there’s a lot of stalker love to record you and follow you wherever you go. Many strangers has this experience, and that’s why it’s better to use a covered outfit and pants, rather than ‘see through’ or a free flow open skirt. Beware of this, you might already see it in movie or kdrama, and it is real.

8. Reservation is required

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Many of hype restaurant or cafes will required you to reserve before you can get in, unless you are lucky and there’s not much people inside it. 

if you don’t know about it and just come by, then you need to be willing to wait for a long time. There’s a time where we might need to wait for up to two hours just for go in and eat something.

You can check if they’re open for reservation through naver or their instagram page.

9. Use Convenience Store To Top Up Your Transport Card

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You can top up your transportation card in the subway areas, however it will be better if you top it up at the most convenient place that spread all over Korea, convenience store.

Whether you want to top up, or re-buy (in case you lose your T-money), you can do it in a nearby convenience store. This will help you save time as you can find it everywhere, you just need to find a sign ‘CU, GS25 , 7Eleven and Ministop’.

10. Use Call Bells And Table Drawer in Restaurants

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Rather than keep shouting ‘chogi-yo’, look for the call bells in the table and use it if it’s available in the restaurant you are going to. You can find it on the edge or underneath the dining table

Other than that, look for the table drawer and open it, you can find all the dining cutlery you need, spoon, fork, and knife.

11. Decaf Coffee Available

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All of us knew that korean have a great cafe, cofee, and soju culture. Especially coffee, almost everyone, yes including the youth, kids are using caffeine to help them study especially during the exam period.

However, caffeine might cause a stomach ache or insomnia for those caffeine sensitive person. Korea prevent this by selling decaf coffee. This mean, you don’t need to worry to drink more than one cup a day. You can order it on Hollys or Ediya coffee chain that is available in almost every corner of Korea.

12. Naver Map and Kakao Map is King

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Google maps much a loser in korea compare to Naver map that offer both korean and english language to help makes it easy for strangers to use it.

Other than Naver Map, you can also use Kakao Map to find a local insight about the best hot spot around you as you travel south korea. You can just find the category of the place you want to visit, whether a cafe, coffeeshop, pet friendly cafes, bar, bookstore etc.

More than that, they have a tracking technology where you can locate your friends or family LIVE in real time.

13. Use Grocery Bag

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Korea try to reduce the plastic waste by banned the free plastic bags at large department store, shopping mall, grocery store and supermarket chains.

If you forget to bring plastic bag, then you will be charge KRW500 for each plastic bag you use. Check the video below to know more about this rule.

14. Group and Couple Culture

Korean Celebrity Couples

Korean dramas is telling the truth about this one. You can hardly find a loner in Korea, as korean as a group or community type of people.

Other than community is huge in Korea, couple is everywhere, it’s hardly to find a couple free zone in Korea. You can find a couple almost in every corner of the street in korea.

15. Look To 'Kids Free' sign if you travel with kids

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Credit to @daseossudgarag

No Kids zone is common in South Korea, this sign refer to children under 13 years old. This happened because the kids below 13 years old are usually create noise and disturb the other customers.

Kids Free Zone usually applied in restaurants, cafes, cinemas and some supermarkets. Therefore, you better do your research before visit the place you plan to go.

16. Bring meals To cinema

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Korea Fair Trade Commission permitted customers to bring their own food to the cinema in South Korea, like CGV, Lotte, Megabox in 2018.

However, do note that they don’t allow you to bring all type of food, especially those with strong and sharp smell that will cause discomfort to another customers and polute the air.

17. General and Food Waste Culture

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General trash and food waste trash is different and separated, if you plan to stay in an apartment, then you better know this. The general waste is usually use white bag, while the yellow bag is use to store the food waste.

However, do note that not every kind of food waste should be put in the yellow bag. Some food like fish bones, clam shells and fruit seeds need to store in a white bag.

18. Self Service Is Common

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Some store have the sign ‘self’ store, which mean you will need to take, purchase and check out all by yourself. 

18. Never cross leg facing another person

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Sitting with leg cross facing another person we are talking to is considered really rude and felt like you are underestimating the person you are talking to. It is much better for you to just let your leg loose and open it a little, to show your openness and listen to the other person.

It will be better to put your hands on your lap as you listen to someone you are talking to, this one is really show you are perceptive to the person you’re talking with.

19. Avoid PDA and physical touch

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If you visit korea with your couple, then it is better to avoid public display of affection like kissing, french kiss, touching or all kinds of romance. 

Other than that, in western country, kissing on the cheek and touch our friend might feels comfortable, warm and welcoming, but not in Korea. If you do that, with someone whom you just knew for a while, you will be labeled as a pervert.

20. Never write someone's name in Red

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Writing someone’s name in red is same as if you are wishing them to die soon. This is super rude and offensive to korean people, it is much better to use black ink to write a person’s name.

Basic Things to Know In Korea

Here’s all we can share about the basic things you need to know before you travel south korea that will help you adapt quickly and to avoid some mistake in Korea. Which one you love most about this ? Let us know in the comment sections below!

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