In Busan and all over South Korea, when you eat your rice, it comes in a stainless steel bowl with stainless steel chopsticks.
Our guess is that it is for hygiene purpose and for environmental protection of felling trees to make disposable chopsticks. It gives a unique steel taste. I would prefer wood or plastic chopstick anytime but in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Was surprised to see so many churches on the way to Busan from Seoul. Christianity is the other major religion besides Confucianism and Buddhism. What is interesting is that the crosses on the churches are lighted up.
Then I remember about the famous "Moonies" sect in USA which originate from South Korea. I In Malaysia, even some non-Christians have adopted Christian names like Michael Ooi or Angeline Tan. Did not meet anyone who introduced themselves as Michael Kim or Angeline Park.
During the meal, rest your chopsticks and spoon on top of a dish. When you have finished eating, lay the chopsticks or spoon on the table to indicate that you have completed the meal. Never stick chopsticks or spoons in a bowl of rice - this is done only during ancestral memorial services. Don't worry about reaching in front of others or asking for a dish to be passed.
Out of respect for the elderly, young people usually give up their seats for an aged person on a crowded bus or subway train. Nowadays some young people do not but most still do. Most Koreans wouldn't expect a foreigner to do this, but if you do it will make you look like a well-mannered guest in their country.
If you are smoking while walking along and you approach an older person, either hide or put out your cigarette. Korean teens that smoke typically do so in stairways and basement levels of buildings, away from adult's eyes. To westerners it seems sexist, but Korean women who smoke are seen as women of loose morals (if you get my meaning).
Gift giving is an important part of Korean tradition. Gifts might be given to cultivate a personal relationship, before conducting business, or to encourage aid from someone in a position above. A return gift or favor is usually expected. Koreans seldom open a gift in public. The recipient may put your gift aside without opening it in consideration of not to embarrass you at the smallness of the gift. They'll open it if you politely ask them to.
A lot of Koreans have a difficult time with some letters in the English language, as they don't have anything that really corresponds in Hangul. Some of the more common problems occur when dealing with the letter l, the letter r, and the letter z, although I'm sure there are others that I am missing.
The result of these mix-ups is that you will find many such signs as you see to the left!
When dealing with Koreans, don't be afraid to correct their English, as long as you do it in a polite way. Many of them will appreciate the correction!
I'm not sure exactly how this will benefit anyone travelling to S. Korea, but I think it's interesting, and may help you to psychologically prepare for this strange and wonderful place.
People here have a very different view on pets. Most families don't name their pets, even dogs and cats. I don't think that they get as attached to the animal members of their families as Westerners do (this could just be my own perception, based on what I've talked about with some Koreans).
I think the most interesting thing I've seen so far is that most of the pets in Busan are dogs, and most of these dogs are small. And occasionally colored weird colors. Please don't ask why, I have yet to understand it myself!
Give a little nod of your head when you say hello and goodbye...if it's someone important make a bigger nod/bow.
Shoes...look at other people...did they take their shoes off and put on slippers??? then YOU should too.
In Korea, it is customary for the man in the relationship to hold the woman's purse when they are out shopping. It took me awhile to adjust to seeing men carrying around faux-fur pink purses, but I'm getting better: I manage to not glance for more than a few moments!
A current trend in Korea is for couples to dress alike. I have seen varying degrees of this, from couples wearing the same shirt to couples with complete matching outfits (probably undies too!). If you are one of a twosome, and you would like to try this one out, be forewarned: you may be the object of a few stares!
A sign for the Zoo inside The Grand Children's Park. I didn't go inside this place since I wouldn't put my money towards such levels of animal cruelties. I heards honking and screeching noises though!
Doggies in boots, pink eared poodles, winter pet fashion for Busan what next. Sadly here cats are either running wild or if had as a pets their whole life is on a string, on a sidewalk with the traffic fumes and grit. Some people don't understand the true value of a pet.