In Korea, bowing is a normal form of greeting, particularly when meeting those who are senior to you, either in age or in
a given social or work-related hierarchy. In addition, it is a customary Confucian tradition to perform the jeol, a deep bow
on bent knees, chest touching the floor and the arms stretched forward to show respect to parents or older relatives on special
Unlike in English-speaking communities, in Korea it is perfectly acceptable for members of the same sex (not homosexual)
to place an arm around another's shoulder or to hold hands. Such gestures are considered merely acts of close friendship.
On the contrary, it is deemed bad manners, even offensive, for those of different sexes to express affection in public.
Koreans traditionally live in homes with heated floors, and it is normal not to wear shoes inside. Even those who use beds
instead of sleeping on the "ondol" floor never go to bed with shoes on. Because of this, it is bad manners to visit someone's
home barefoot, as is the case in English-speaking countries.
The basic Korean meal consists of bap, or boiled rice; either guk or tang (soup); gimchi; and other side dishes. While the
main dish is bap, other dishes made of flour such as bread and noodles can also be eaten in its place. Although Koreans have
developed a large number of side dishes, gimchi is the most popular and the most indispensable of all. In other words, gimchi
and Koreans are inseparable.
Members of some households eat bread, milk, and eggs for breakfast, as Westerners do, while
others eat porridge or drink health beverages. However, there are a large number of families who continue to eat a traditional
meal of rice, soup and side dishes for breakfast, just as they do for lunch and supper.
It is just as impolite to blow your nose at the table as it is to belch. Yet another sign of bad manners is holding
the rice bowl in your hand. The arrangement of bowls and silverware is crucial at the Korean table. The rice bowl and the
soup bowl should be arranged side-by-side, rice on the left and the soup on the right. The spoon should always be placed to
the left of the chopsticks; otherwise the arrangement indicates a ritual meal for the dead. Also it is inappropriate to leave
either the spoon or chopsticks stuck in the steamed rice, as it indicates a ritual for the dead as well.
Koreans offer glasses of liquor to each other rather than pouring their own. When someone offers you an empty liquor glass,
you are expected to hold it out and receive a fill-up, drink it empty, and in likewise fashion return into to the person who
offered it to you. This drinking tradition helps promote close ties around a drinking table.
It is a rule of courtesy for juniors to pour liquor for their seniors. The juniors have to keep paying attention not to leave
a senior's glass empty When a senior offers a junior a glass, the junior should receive it with two hands and drink with head
turned aside, not facing the senior. It is also the custom to cup the right sleeve with the left hand when pouring drink for
Most Korean houses have shower facilities, and there are public bath facilities in every neighborhood. It is quite common
for Koreans to bathe together and wash each others' backs. The public bath has separate sections for women and men, and some
places run family bath facilities. Most public baths are equipped with saunas, and some have fitness or Jjim-jil-bang or steam
room facilities as well.
Traditional Korean clothing is the hanbok, worn today either on holidays or for special occasions. As young Koreans in
particular are very fashion-conscious, fashion trends come and go, even changing from season to season.
Because Korea, like other Asian countries, was partly affected by Chinese culture, the number '4,' which has the same
sound as the Chinese letter signifying 'death,' is considered bad luck. Consequently, most buildings, including hospitals
and hotels, do not have a fourth floor. Moreover, most Koreans avoid writing people's names with red pens. However, it is
acceptable when correcting answer sheets for tests.