Local traditions and culture in South Korea

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Most Viewed Local Customs in South Korea

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    Soju ( Alcohol )

    by jckim Written Apr 9, 2014

    Each region has a different brand of Soju.
    Seoul and Gyeonggi-do : ÂüÀ̽½ ¼ÒÁÖ ( Chamisul Soju )
    Chungcheongnam-do : ¸° ¼ÒÁÖ( Linn Soju )
    Chungcheongbuk-do : ûdz ¼ÒÁÖ ( Cheongpung Soju )
    Gangwon-do : óÀ½Ã³·³ ¼ÒÁÖ ( Like the First Time Soju )
    Jeollabuk-do : ÇÏÀÌÆ® ¼ÒÁÖ ( Hite Soju )
    Jeollanam-do : ÀÙ»õÁÖ ¼ÒÁÖ ( Maple Soju )
    Jeju-do : ÇѶó»ê ¼ÒÁÖ ( Hallasan Soju )
    Gyeongsangnam-do : È­ÀÌÆ® ¼ÒÁÖ ( White Soju )
    Gyeongsangbuk-do : Âü ¼ÒÁÖ ( Charm Soju )
    Busan : ½Ã¿ø ¼ÒÁÖ ( C1 Soju )

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    Jang Seung

    by jckim Updated Feb 9, 2014

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    Jang Seung ( Totem pole ).
    Long time ago that used for Village boundary post,
    Milepost, and village Guardian over the Korea.
    This thing's made two type by Wood and Stone.
    Jang Seung is stand in the usually front Village,
    front Temple, and Road side,
    Figure is Man and Woman pillars.

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    Hagwon (학원)

    by Arial_27 Updated Jan 7, 2014

    'Hagwon' is the Korean word for "private school" or "academy." Private schools are generally a big part of Korean upper middle class family life. Most school children from middle income families attend hagwon after finishing regular school, sometimes not finishing until 9 or 10pm at night. If you're wandering the streets of Seoul or Busan and see kids in uniforms just coming out of class, they're just leaving their hagwons to go home. I've never seen kids spend such long hours in school until I came to Korea. There are children as young as 5 year olds who will spend 12 hours/day in a classroom.
    English hagwons are very common, and I used to teach in one. They also have math hagwons, science, art, taw kown do, etc.

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    Some helpful words

    by DSwede Updated Jun 6, 2012

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    I do not know if the Korean characters (hangul) will be readable in this tip, but I will leave them in regardless:

    excuse me - "shil yeh hap ni da" (실례합니다)
    Where is ____? - "eo di yo ____?" (어디에 ___?)
    the bathroom - "hwa chang shil" (화장실)
    motel - "motel" (모텔)
    hotel - "hotel"(호텔)
    train station - "gi cha yeuk" (기차역) or "yeuk (역)" for short
    bus terminal - "bus-eh teh-minal" (버스 터미널)
    airport - "gong hang" (공항)
    Good morning - "annyeong ha sae yo" (안녕하세요)
    I'm good - "na nil chong da" (나는 좋다)
    Thank you very much - "cahm sa ham ni da" (감사합니다)
    Goodbye - "annyeong hi ga sae yo" informal (안녕히가세요)
    Have a nice day - "chong eun haru dwih sae yo" (좋은하루되세요)
    can you speak English? - "ha da yeung-ah leul hal soo it-ueh yo?" (하다 영어를 할 수있요?)

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    Hongsalmun Gate

    by jckim Written Jan 20, 2012

    Red arrow gate with arrow-shaped decoration on top.
    Standing in front of Palacs, Government Office ,Royal Tombs, Famous Graveyards, and Public Buildings. it's the places of symbol and protect from devil.

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    What's Your Blood Type?

    by jburron Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This was so well done, I just did a cut and paste.

    In Korea, you're likely to be asked, "What's your blood type?" If, like me, you answer, "I don't know," you'll probably get an incredulous, "How can you not know your blood type?!" It all started in 1927 when Takeji Furukawa, a philosophy major with no scientific background, first proposed the theory that blood type determines one's personality. The torch was passed in 1971 to Masahiko Nomi, a journalist (again, with no scientific background), and finally to Masahiko's son, Toshitaka Nomi, in 1988. Their theories have become increasingly popular in Korea. Of all types, it seems that blood type B men (described as selfish, mercurial cads) have been the most vilified. Despite an utter lack of scientific evidence, people still believe this, usually because of anecdotes. However, as any psychology student knows, the human mind tends to remember information that confirms stereotypes, and forget information that does not. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. Moreover, it seems there's disagreement amongst the quack "experts."

    While Asians describe type A's positively as responsible, trustworthy, and hardworking, Peter J. D'Adamo (who theorizes that one's diet should be determined by one's blood type) describes them negatively as poorly suited for leadership and prone to anxiety.

    The four basic blood types were first identified early in the twentieth century by Karl Landsteiner according to what type of antigens cover the red cells and are in the plasma. However, 276 discrete red-cell antigens have since been discovered. So instead of four types, shouldn't there be 276? I'm not trying to paint Koreans as backward bumpkins because a healthy dose of skepticism is something all societies could use.

    Written by Richard Stansfield

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    Jeonse...Not Your Usual Rental Contract.

    by jburron Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    'Regular' rental contracts are becoming more popular in Korea (especially Seoul) but most are still based on the Jeon-se system.

    Jeon-se involves the renter putting up about 50% of the market value of the home (apartment, usually) with the owner. The owner then must pay back that sum at the end of the contract (often 2 years; usually a 1 year minimum). The renter does not pay rent, but instead gives up the opportunity cost on the money (Korean interest rates are higher than in the West by about 1-2%) and if the property appreciates by the time the contract ends the renter will have to put up more money to stay in the place (and vice versa).

    Some officetels (read: small apartments of about 300-400 sqft) have a combination: rent may be $500 a month and the deposit may be $5,000.

    As mentioned, others are pure rentals (minimal deposit) but that is usually only in special locations where foreigners frequent (near Itaewon, usually).

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    Know Your Pyeong

    by jburron Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    If anything, Koreans only know square meters in Korea, not square feet, and they typically use another system for all area measurements (from apartment floors to country sizes!). This is pyoung.

    Thankfully, conversion is pretty simple. As a rough guess (which is as good as you might get as apartment sizes include such things as common-space in their pyoung calculations) 1 pyoung = 3.3 square meters = 33 square feet. So a 100 pyoung place (probably costing $1 million) would be equal to about 3,300 square feet (or 3,000 or 3,100 or 3,200 depending on the effect of common areas).

    In the website below pyoung is the symbol that looks like a roman numeral 2 (II) with a circle underneath it.

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    Textmessaging is #1 in Korea

    by jburron Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Texting (as it's called) is not that big in Canada (no one can justify the 10 cents it costs per message, so they'd rather call and blow 50 cents, I guess) but it's BIG in Korea. I was a convert as well...sending and receiving 9,000 (4,500 incoming, 4,500 outgoing) texts in about 5 months (as well as 100 or so pictures). There are many reasons why I loved it so much:

    (i) it's private - no one knows what you are reading and writing (especially good if you're juggling social engagements or job-hunting, you can even reply when in a meeting if you need to);
    (ii) it's immediate, but can be delayed - like email it can sit there and you can read it anytime (like when you wake up or finish a meeting);
    (iii) it's non-intrusive - without a ring and hello you need not feel burdened by a text;
    (iv) it's simple - I even learned the hanguel easily and found it to be very simple and faster to use (faster than English in some cases!);
    (v) it's written - this is obvious, but if your sender or recipient is non-native speaker there can be burden and confusion in any conversation, texting allows both sides to consult friends or dictionaries to get meanings straight;
    (vi) it's semi-permanent - espcially for addresses or meeting times, this is a big plus (no need for pen and paper or a PDA, it's in your phone!)

    So, if you go to Korea learn the text functions quickly--you'll need them!

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    Playing Go-Stop is Fun!

    by jburron Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I vaguely remember getting my first 화투/hwa-too (what Koreans call a deck of Go-Stop cards) when I was about 10 years old. I got them from a relative who thought it would be good for me to learn. Unfortunately, the rules are so complicated (and I learn from doing, not reading) and no one else knew the game so they all vanished.

    It is a fun, game, though. Usually only older Korean MEN play it, but now younger ones and even (horrors!) women are playing it as well. There are 12 suits (one for each month) and 4 cards in each suit, but that's where the fleeting similarity to Western cards ends.

    I could go into explainging all the rules, but Yahoo has a good run-down on it here:
    http://games.yahoo.com/games/rules/gostop/gostop_cards.html?page=gs

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    Korean Women and Make-up

    by jburron Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I don't know what it is. Korean women are (in my and many who have visited Korea and learned the difference between Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and other Asians) the most beautiful in the world. And yet, they seem to love to wear (sometimes a lot of) make-up, even in casual situations.

    At least they (i) usually have a more-or-less natural look to it, (ii) can apply it well and (iii) are consistent. In Korea it's see and be seen, so I can understand the mindset. Imagine a neighbor sees you taking out the trash with no mascara! I've also seen gals dolled up for such things a jogging/rollerblading, going to the beach and going grocery shopping. No wonder shops like Missha are doing so well!

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    Korean Dating Habits Part 1

    by jburron Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Koreans are an interesting lot when it comes to dating. For many Koreans dating is with one thing in mind: marriage. This is true for both parties, it seems. Upon meeting single Koreans (guys and gals), especially since I am married, I invariably get the request to introduce them to some nice person. It's quite flattering at first, but then you get to notice a pattern here.

    Koreans are often introduced by friends, relatives and (in rarer cases now) matchmakers. They are so busy studying (when they're younger) and working (when they're older) that they have little chance to mix-and-mingle--and when they do go out on the town it is usually in same-sex groups or with relatives or co-workers (which, it seems, are off-limits).

    If a date is one-on-one it is called a so-gay-ting (weird name) and if double ot triple dating it's called a mee-ting. Before a first date (or 5 minutes into one) each party will likely know the other's (i) graduation year and school (and job and title), (ii) birthday, (iii) family and religious background (including father's job), and likely (iv) salary and (v) goals. This is one of the few areas that Korea is extremely efficient in.

    They usually meet at a trendy cafe and exchange vital information. After that, if things go well, future dates ensue. If not, that is it. Very matter-of-fact (and rather an oddity here, given Koreans penchant for high emotion--e.g., football matches).

    Parents then, usually, cover the wedding and help set up the couple and off they go to make a family.

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  • Seolnal

    by sunsoohyun Written Jun 1, 2010

    I'll talk about the Seolnal.
    First, the Seolnal is Janeury First by luner calender.
    We eat Rice cake soup(Toeukguk) this day.
    One of the reason of eating Rice cake soup is Seolnal is starting day so we need to clean our body so they eat Rice cake soup.
    Second, it meant to live long like white long Rice cake.
    Third, it mean to be rick like the rice cake which become longer and longer
    Also, we play Yutnori which is Korean traditional play.
    Yutnori is play by forecast the year's farming.
    And we take Korean traditional cloth and give adults new year greeting.
    New year greeting mean give the greeting to adult. If we did New year greeting, then adults give us well-wishing remarks.

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    Changing names

    by DSwede Written Apr 27, 2010

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    It is becoming more common for Koreans to change their names. They believe that their names are associated with something akin to fate and karma, so by changing their name, they can realign their stars so to speak.

    However, please note that Koreans do not change their names when the get married. The bride and groom will keep their original names, but their children will take the family name of the father.

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    Odd foods and Hong-eh

    by DSwede Written Mar 11, 2010

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    In all my travels I have had some unique and wonderful foods that are not mainstream where I grew up. Korea itself is the reason for many of those. There are things like live octopus, curdled beef blood, etc.

    However one of the most foul foods that I have ever come across is called hong-eh (홍어 in hongul). It is pickled stingray. It can have the texture of jerky or softer, but always has a near gagging limit of ammonia smell.

    I've wondered where the smell came from, but just accepted it as a byproduct of the natural pickling process. It probably has something to do with the extra salt content in the flesh.

    The story goes that long ago down in the waters far off the southwest of Korea, a fisherman got a stingray along with his catch of fish. This in itself is not uncommon. Back in that day, the fish would have just been dried in the sun since refrigeration was not available.

    However the fisherman did not feel like throwing the stingray back into the water, so kept it in the hold of the boat. During the long journey back home, the ray naturally fermented and pickled itself in the boat's locker.

    Upon arrival the fisherman was too determined to discard the new curiosity. So with a bit of resolve, gave it a try. It has evolved into a bit of an expensive delicacy here, although few like it since it has such an acquired taste.

    http://www.susanmool.com/shop/goods/goods_list.php?category=001

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