If you are planning to visit Korea for studying, business, holidaying, or any other purpose it will be necessary to learn about the culture and tradition of the country. It will help make your visit to the country purposeful and communicating with your Korean counterparts easier. There are at least 10 things that you do not know about Korean culture.
1. Korean Culture Means the Culture and Heritage of South Korea
South Korea and North Korea are two independent countries. Unlike South Korea, its northern counterpart is not open to all. Since your chances of visiting North Korea and any close encounter with its culture and traditions are remote the focus will be on the South Korean culture and traditions. Located in Eastern Asia and bordering the East Sea and the Yellow Sea the country is one of the racially purest countries across the globe. It is also ranked in 30th position in the Business Culture Complexity Index.
2. South Koreans Share One Language
One of the unique features of Korean culture is that all Koreans speak and share a single language.
- Around 70 million people all over the world use the Korean language;
- Language structure is similar to the Japanese language;
- While dialects vary in accent in different regions they are so similar to each other as such differences do not create complexity in communication; and
- The literacy rate in Korea is one of the highest in the world.
3. Religion and Traditions in Korean Culture
Some of the interesting Korean cultural facts about religion and customs are as follows.
- The country supports religious freedom;
- The main religions are Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity;
- A common feature is faith in ancestral spirits and observation of Confucian rituals; and
- The two major festivals are New Year’s Day that is celebrated on the 2nd full moon after the winter solstice and “Chuseok” celebrated on the 8th full moon day.
4. Family in Korean Culture
Family plays a very vital role in the culture of the country. For instance; the Korean culture family in the past followed property inheritance practice under which the eldest son inherited properties of deceased parents. According to the revised family laws, all successors in the family enjoy equal rights on the family property. However, the eldest son is responsible for caring for and supporting parents in advanced ages. Families are classified based mainly on educational attainments and accordingly, around 60% of families come in the middle class in the society. Also, the growth of industrialization, as well as urbanization, has contributed considerably to the class differences in society.
5. Marriage in Korean Culture
The Korean culture marriage is also considered to be a rite of passage in South Korea. Inheritance is traditionally linked with the ancestral lines of the male member of the married couple. Marriage is traditionally considered divine and the numbers of divorces were fewer in comparison. However, the principles of gender equality have resulted in more cases of divorce in recent times.
6. Symbols of Korean Culture
Usually, the status of any family or person is determined by indicating symbols. Major Korean culture symbols for determination of the status of a family are –
- Size of the home owned by the family. The larger the home the higher is the status of the family in the society;
- Possessing cars with hired chauffeur;
- Use of expensive dresses by members of the family;
- Enjoying membership in elite clubs; and
- Higher educational degrees.
Any or all of the above work as indicators in the determination of the status of a person or family.
7. Important Things to Know
Certain things are important for assessing the culture of the country. It is thus necessary to learn about the Korean culture do’s and don’ts. Some of the features of the social structure in South Korea are as follows-
- One has to address social superiors inappropriate manner; Families are patriarchal and is dominated by male guidance and others in the family should listen and adhere to instructions and guidance;
- Social organization is gender-based and more and more women are working outside their homes now;
- Political representations of women are on the lower side;
- Women must be submissive in a public situation and informal gatherings; and
Patriarchal obedience, respect for elders, and parent-based grooming of children are some of the main features of the culture of the country. Paying attention to the social traditions will help determination of things to do and not to do.
8. Food in Korean Culture
Food plays an important role in any culture and it is also the same for culture in Korea. Basic features of Korean culture food are –
- Rice, meat, and vegetables constitute major components of Korean food;
- National dish Kimchi is part of regular meals. It contains various vegetables and fermented for long storage;
- Side dishes to be served with the main dish are called Banchan made using vegetables; and
- All these are presented on festive occasions, social ceremonies like birthdays and weddings, and to honor ancestors.
South Korean food culture aims at making every occasion memorable for the diners.
9. Korean Culture and Business
Once an underdeveloped economy, South Korea emerged as the 11th largest economy in the world in a matter of one generation. Korean culture Business was one of the major contributors in making such developments. The country is heavily dependent on exports of goods and services and around 79% of the exports are of electronic goods and transport vehicles and materials.
10. Social Customs and Etiquette in Korean Culture
The interpersonal relationships in the culture of South Korea are based on the concept of Kibun. Hurting someone’s Kibun causing a person to lose dignity, face embarrassments, or have hurt feelings due to action like touching or any other activity then it is time to apologize In essence; the Korean culture touching is based on the principles of harmony. The maintenance of a peaceful environment is most important in the culture of Korea. The above are the 10 things that you may not know about Korean culture. Learning them will help you to make your trip to South Korea memorable and you will return home with fond memories from the country you visited.