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friends practicing table manners and etiquette in korea

What is proper etiquette in Korea? Avoid miscommunication when meeting new friends and people in South Korea. Here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind!


  • Do make sure you bow towards someone when greeting them. This is usually done by keeping both legs straight and together while bending down from the waist with the head down.
  • Don’t introduce yourself at social gatherings; wait for your guest to introduce you to others.
  • Do make sure to shake hands afterwards, as it is generally expected of westerners.
  • Don’t bring up controversial and sensitive topics in conversation. This includes politics, communism, and the Korean War.
  • Do keep hand gestures to a minimum when speaking.


  • Do make sure you remove your shoes before entering a home and in some restaurants.
  • Don’t pour your own drink. It is expected that the host or other guests will pour and refill others’ drinks.
  • Do make sure that the eldest person at the table eats before you do.
  • Don’t eat or pass food with your hands.
  • Do make sure you place your chopsticks on your resting block and keep them uncrossed when you are finished your meal.
  • Don’t leave your chopsticks sticking out of your rice bowl.

Public Behavior

  • Do make sure you are not loud or boisterous in public.
  • Don’t make excessive physical contact. This includes back slaps, shoulder touches and hugs.
  • Do ensure that you are quiet when on public transportation. Talking on a cell phone or listening to loud music is not appreciated.
  • Don’t blow your nose around others. Make sure you excuse yourself to do it privately.
  • Do cover up any exposed tattoos you have, especially while at work.

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