Heavily influenced by social hierarchy, South Korean culture centers around generosity, respect, and above all, manners. In order to fit in during a visit to the Asian nation, it’s important to master the etiquette that’s practiced by locals and, in many cases, expected of foreigners.

There’s nothing too difficult about learning South Korean etiquette. Most of it comes down to maintaining a certain decorum in public, valuing local customs, and always showing respect for the elderly and those with high social rankings.

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Keep reading to find out what 10 etiquette tips you have to know before you travel to South Korea.

10 Never Blow Your Nose In Public

In western countries, blowing your nose in public can gross other people out. But we typically don’t have nearly as strong an aversion to the act as the South Koreans do. According to 90 Day Korean, in order to practice proper etiquette in South Korea, you must never blow your nose in public.

On the contrary, sniffing and inhaling when you’ve got a running nose isn’t as offensive. If your situation requires more than just sniffing, the best thing to do is to excuse yourself and head to the restroom to take care of it.

9 At Least Learn How To Say Thank You In Korean

You’ll get the most out of Korea and leave the best impression on locals if you learn a little of the local language before you go. One of the most important words to learn is 'thank you' since you’ll need it when interacting with locals who are providing you a service.

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Of course, many travelers visit South Korea without knowing a word in the local language, so this tip isn’t imperative. It just helps to set you apart from the hordes of other tourists and show that you’re genuinely interested in the local culture.

8 Avoiding Writing People’s Names In Red Ink

This etiquette tip applies to several countries in Asia, South Korea included. If you ever have the opportunity to write out someone name’s while visiting the country, be sure to never use red ink. This will really rub people the wrong way.

World Nomads explains that this is actually a bad omen because the names of the deceased are usually written in red ink. You’ll cause quite a stir if you make this blunder, so it’s best to avoid red ink at all costs.

7 Don’t Use Only One Hand During A Handshake

Depending on where you’re from, you might be used to only shaking hands with one hand when you greet people. In South Korea, this is only ever done by elders and those with a high rank. The country’s culture and traditions are based on social hierarchies, which is reflected in customs like this.

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It’s better to use two hands to shake as this is a sign of respect. If the other person bows when you shake their hand it is polite to bow back. When interacting with someone who is older or of higher rank, it is always polite to bow slightly, even if they don’t.

6 Dress Modestly If You’re Leaving The Major Cities

In many ways, South Korea tends to be more conservative than a lot of countries in Europe and the United States. So if you’re going to visit rural communities where traditions are held in even higher esteem, it’s best to dress moderately. Women should aim to cover shoulders and avoid wearing short-shorts.

In the major cities, it is more acceptable to wear whatever you like. But in places that typically receive less traffic from tourists, you risk being reprimanded in public if you dress in a way that is considered inappropriate.

5 Mind Your Manners On Public Transport

The public transport system in South Korea is advanced but there is a certain etiquette to be aware of before you ride. As The Culture Trip explains, Koreans make very little noise on public transport. If they do have conversations, they keep their voices hushed. They also typically wait until the ride is over before they make phone calls. It is respectful to follow this protocol.

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You should also be aware of priority seating when visiting South Korea. There will be seats on the bus reserved for the elderly, those with disabilities, and those who are pregnant, and they should never be taken.

4 Take Off Your Shoes When You Go Inside

Like many countries in Asia, South Korea is particular about where shoes are worn. In general, it is impolite to wear shoes inside somebody’s home. Even some establishments will require you to take your shoes off before you enter.

It’s always a good idea to come prepared by wearing shoes that are easy to take on and off. In most cases, you’ll be given slippers to wear inside so you don’t have to go barefoot. It’s especially important to remove your shoes in places like temples and schools.

3 Wait For The Eldest Dinner Guest To Sit First

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to dinner while in South Korea, there are a few etiquette tips to brush up on. The main point to remember is that the culture is governed by the social hierarchies so you should always show the utmost respect to the eldest person at the table. That means standing until that person is seated.

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Westerners aren’t always used to sitting on cushions on the floor to eat. It can take some getting used to! Remember that you are allowed to change positions if you start to get uncomfortable.

2 Accept And Present Items Using Your Right Hand, Not Your Left

It is customary in South Korea to accept and present items using your right hand, even if you’re left-handed. This is just how things are done and you’ll avoid standing out if you blend in with the practice.

When it comes to paying for goods and services, try to pay using both hands. This can sometimes feel a little odd when you’re used to handing cash or a credit card over with just the one hand, but in South Korea, it is traditionally done with two hands.

1 Wait For Others To Fill Your Glass

At a dining table in South Korea, remember that you shouldn’t fill your own glass. Instead, make sure that everyone else’s glasses are full as this is considered to be good manners. It’s especially important to make sure that the eldest person at the table never has an empty glass.

The art of pouring has a certain trick to it in South Korea. Try to do it while balancing your free hand on your forearm. When someone else pours a drink for you, it’s polite to accept with two hands.

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