Cultural Know-How When Visiting South Korea

The hierarchical structure of South Korea, as well as the emphasis on respect and harmony, have a significant impact on business dealings. Respect is demonstrated by bowing, exchanging business cards with both hands, and utilizing formal titles. 

Establishing trust requires the development of personal ties through socializing and dining together. Time management, timeliness, and professionalism are highly regarded. Adapting to Korean etiquette shows a commitment to developing effective business partnerships and creates a favorable image. 

Cultural Know-How When Visiting South Korea

Business professionals can efficiently traverse the South Korean business landscape and build genuine connections by navigating and embracing the cultural norms listed below.

1. Embrace ‘Noisy Noodle’ Appreciation 

Embracing noisy noodle appreciation is a distinguishing cultural norm in the country. It is traditional to slurp excellent noodles loudly when eating them. This practice indicates that the dinner is good and expresses gratitude to the cook. Rather than being deemed disrespectful, it is regarded as praise. 

south korea noodle

Embracing this norm helps tourists fully immerse themselves in South Korean culinary culture and experience the flavors and textures of the noodles. So, slurp those noodles with passion and enjoy the experience with a smile!

2. Graceful Bowing

Bowing is an important part of South Korean culture that conveys respect and civility. An elegant bow is traditional when meeting someone. It entails a small forward bend from the waist, with the hands by the sides. The depth of the bow is determined by the individual’s social rank and age. 

Visitors can show their admiration for local customs, demonstrate cultural understanding, and make a positive impression on South Koreans by mastering the art of graceful bowing.

3. Respect The Dining Hierarchy

The dining experience in South Korea is structured, with a distinct order of sitting and serving. Elders and superiors sit first, and they are served first. It is critical to wait for their cue before beginning to eat and to show deference by pouring drinks for them. 

Respect for age and authority is demonstrated by adhering to this hierarchy, which fosters peaceful relationships. By adhering to this cultural standard, tourists demonstrate appreciation for South Korean dining customs and traditions, leaving a pleasant impression and improving their overall dining experience.

4. Exchange Business Card With Both Hands

Exchanging business cards is an important gesture in South Korea, and it is customary to present and receive cards with both hands. This demonstrates respect and displays the value placed on professional relationships. When handing out your business card, make sure the text is facing the recipient. 

South Korea Business Card

Receive cards in the same way, reading and acknowledging the details before carefully preserving them. Following this cultural norm indicates your professionalism and desire to adopt local norms, creating a positive image and strengthening business relationships in South Korea.

5. Follow The Soju Protocol

When conducting business in South Korea, professionals need to stick to the Soju Protocol. Soju, a popular Korean alcoholic beverage, is frequently served at business and social meetings. Remember to use both hands to pour and accept drinks as a sign of respect.

Soju South korea

Hold your glass lower than those of higher-ranking individuals when toasting and wait for them to initiate the toast. To preserve professionalism, sip slowly and pace yourself. Following the Soju Protocol promotes cultural awareness and positive relationships. Enjoy the experience responsibly while adhering to Korean business culture’s rules and traditions.

6. No Need to Tip in Most Situations

It is essential to understand that tipping is not expected in most situations when visiting South Korea. Service costs, unlike in certain Western nations, are frequently included in the bill or price.

However, if you are extremely pleased with the service provided, you may leave a little tip as a token of your thanks. Nonetheless, tipping is not a cultural standard, and service employees do not rely on tips for a living.

Instead, the emphasis is on providing exceptional service without the expectation of further gratuities, allowing guests to enjoy their experiences without feeling obligated to tip.

7. Silence on Public Transportation

Silence on transportation is highly respected in South Korea. Passengers on buses, subways, and trains frequently refrain from carrying on loud conversations, making phone calls, or engaging in disruptive behavior.

This practice promotes a tranquil and respectful environment for all commuters. Silence helps people to relax, read, or indulge in personal pursuits without being interrupted.

Visitors can exhibit their understanding and respect for local customs by adopting this cultural norm, helping to create a harmonious and enjoyable public transportation experience in South Korea.

Also Read: Things To Do For Business Professionals In Hong Kong

8. Hanbok Appreciation

Hanbok appreciation is vital for South Korean business professionals since it demonstrates respect for the country’s rich cultural heritage. Understanding the significance of this traditional dress shows cultural sensitivity and respect for local norms. 

While wearing the hanbok in a business context is not required, expressing admiration for it through praise or attending cultural events fosters a favorable impression. It represents a readiness to accept Korean traditions and beliefs. 

By recognizing the hanbok, business professionals can develop a stronger bond with their South Korean counterparts, thereby improving business partnerships and possibilities.

9. Experience The Unique Korean Bathhouse Culture

Immerse yourself in the distinctive Korean bathhouse culture for an amazing South Korean experience. These community bathhouses, known as “jjimjilbang,” provide relaxation, regeneration, and an insight into Korean culture.

Relax in hot mineral pools, enjoy sauna sessions, and receive revitalizing treatments. Wear the complimentary cotton robes, called “jimjilbanga,” to embrace the custom and enjoy the numerous themed saunas.

Participate in the cultural practice of exfoliating using traditional scrubbing mitts known as “seshin,” and don’t pass up the opportunity to socialize, dine, and even sleep overnight in these vibrant and revitalizing venues.


Understanding the local rules of South Korea is essential for appreciating the rich cultural fabric of this lively country. From delicate bowing to boisterous dining customs, these conventions and practices are woven into the fabric of daily life.

Visitors may navigate the country with ease, build significant friendships with residents, and create lasting memories if they understand and obey these unspoken standards. Embracing local customs allows one to fully understand the richness of South Korean traditions while also cultivating a sense of harmony and respect. So, immerse yourself in South Korea’s cultural scene and let the local rules guide you on an exciting adventure of discovery.

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