Korean Cultural Norms

You dial 119 instead of 911.

You have to take your shoes off at people’s homes, church, school, and even some restaurants. You can wear shoes (slippers or slides) inside, but they have to be designated for that place and never go outside.

At restaurants, each table has a call button that rings to the servers. They come when you need them, and don’t bother you if you don’t.

You don’t have to tip here. Like, it’s not a thing anywhere; not at restaurants, bars, or any other services.

There are coffee shops everywhere… like, ev-ery-where. It is considered a social activity, so people will go to coffee shops at all times of the day.

Themed cafe’s are very popular. There are cafes where you can make cell phone cases, play with racoons (or dogs, cats, kangaroos, sheep, etc.), make candles or soap, play board games, make jewelry, plant flowers, and my all time favorite the “Hello Kitty Cafe”!

In public restrooms, they do not use liquid soap, but have bar soap instead.

They have very decent and reliable public transportaion. It is so great, because I can get anywhere in Korea without a car thanks to clean and safe buses, subways, and trains.

Taxi’s are very cheap. Like, cheaper than Uber. They don’t have Uber here.

It is rude to talk or make noise on the bus or subway.

Koreans are not concerned with being manerly. They will bump into each other and not apologize, let doors shut in your face, and cough or sneeze without covering their mouth.

Health care is really cheap. I had a really bad eye infection and my optometrist visit was $6. The medicated eye drops and pills were $3 all together. I heard wisdom teeth removal is $100, and a pair of prescription glasses is less than $30.

Korea is such a small country that they don’t have much space to build houses. I have legitamately not seen a single house since I have been here. Everyone lives in apartments or condos.

Most home bathrooms are just wet rooms, which means there is no separate tub or shower. The shower head is on the wall and there’s a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor. You just stand on the floor and shower near/over the sink and toilet.

Most Korean apartments are heated by running hot water through pipes under the floor, rather than hot air through a vent. It works pretty well.

Koreans have washers, but no dryers. We just hang our clothes on racks inside our apartment.

Korean toothpaste doesn’t have flouride in it. They are obsessed with brushing their teeth though. They brush after every meal.

Koreans want to have white skin, so they use whitening lotion that makes their skin lighter.

At the beach, you don’t see any Koreans in swimsuits.  They cover up completely in full body outfits. this is not a modesty thing; they just don’t want to get tan. They even sit under tents at the beach. Like, the beach is just packed with tents. Sun bathing or “catching some rays” is not a thing here.

They also want to have big eyes. They have a very common surgery here that gives them a double eyelid, so that their eyes look bigger and more “western”.

Showing shoulders for women is considered “sexy/provocative” but booty shorts and short skirts are OK. Women will wear a t shirt under everything (even rompers) to cover up.

Men use and wear bags (purses) here!

Couples like to match… and by “match” I mean, wear the same outfit, down to the shoes, coats, shirts, and purses.

Colored contact lenses are “cool”.

Bright red lip stick is the only lip stick


Author: apenandapassport

Travel Blogger

4 thoughts on “Korean Cultural Norms”

  1. I love this kind of information, Chloe, you’ve acquired an interesting list! These are, like you say, “norms”, and they’re fascinating. I’m also interested in hearing about their values. How do they view family life? The elderly? Patriotism? What do they think of as “good” and/or “evil”? Do they value a clean climate? What do they consider “fun”? and what does that look like? Do they emphasize health and exercise like many Americans do? Hiking…Cycling…Running? Do they have strict justice there? Do they value liberty/wish they had more? –These are my curious questions. Thanks for your posts!


    1. Those are some deep questions that I have aquired some knowledge of, but need to learn more. I have conversations about this with my head teacher and I will be sure to ask her more quesstions like this. Thanks for your thoughts! I can’t wait to post specific answers for you!


  2. So when you say there are ‘themed cafe’s where one can play with racoons (or dogs, cats, kangaroos, sheep, etc)’, after such meal prep, do you also have to do your own cooking? It sounds a bit ruff 😉 How openly available is dog? Is it in supermarkets? On the street? Apparently they also eat ‘cat in Korea. True? Hello ‘Kitty’?


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