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Reacting to the Past: Korea: Culture

Korea at the Crossroads of Civilizations: Confucianism, Westernization, and the 1894 Kabo Reforms Resources

Immerse Yourself in the Culture

While you play the game in class, try using cultural references, such as language and clothing, to complete the feel of a roleplaying environment.  

Korean Language

Learn about the Korean language at asiasociety.org 

Would you like to try some Korean greetings and phrases while you play? Try these!

19th century Korea

Modern Culture

Here are a few "dos and don'ts" in modern Korean culture from 20 Cultural Mistakes to Avoid in Korea

- Don't write a person's name in red ink! It is a sign that you want them dead.

- Use both hands when giving or receiving gifts. This includes shaking hands and pouring water. It is considered rude to only use one hand. 

- Take your shoes off when stepping inside someone's home. The reason is for hygienic purposes, as people eat from low tables while sitting on the floor. Many also sleep on the floor. Koreans spend a lot of effort to keep their floors clean.

- Eating first at the dinner table is a big no-no. Unless you are eating with very close friends, don't even pick up your utensils until the eldest person at the table has done so. It is a sign of respect for elders.

- On the same note, it is rude to leave the table first. It is best to try to finish at about the same time as everyone else because if people see you have finished, they will eat faster, thinking you are waiting for them to finish. But if you do finish early, wait for an elder to dismiss you.

- Share. The Korean culture is a sharing culture. This includes food.

- Bring a gift when invited over to someone's home. Being invited over is a special gesture. Remember to use both hands when giving your gift to your host!

- For women, mini skirts and the like are perfectly acceptable, but showing your shoulder blades is considered too revealing for public.

I Live in Korea is a blog by Ben Gwynne, who taught English in South Korea. He shared his experiences while there, including facts about the culture, and even grafiti.

Books and Resources on Korean Culture