Seoul, South Korea is currently a travel hotspot, both for business and pleasure. Whether you’re looking to a get a new job or just visiting for the first time, you need to keep these tips in mind to avoid making any cultural mistakes. Not only will this help to make a better first impression, but it can also help avoid any unintentional slights.
Never Sit in the Designated Seating Area On the Subway.
Even if every other seat is taken during your trip, avoid sitting in the area specified for elderly or pregnant women. Otherwise, you’re likely to get scolded for sitting there.
Declining a Soju Shot or Korean Beer.
In Korea, when a person who is much older than you offers you either a shot of Soju or a Korean beer, it is a ritual of respect and friendship. Refusing the shot is considered offensive. However, you can replace it with water, or another non-alcoholic form, if you do not drink.
Don’t Start Early.
Although typically tourists tend to start out early, to really experience Seoul, the heart and soul or the city is shown at night. Nightlife generally includes three rounds: dinner, partying (common choices are bars or karaoke), and another stop for food.
Never Write Someone’s Name Using Red Ink
Leave the red pens at home when visiting Seoul. As with many countries, Korea has superstitions. One of these superstitions is writing a person’s name in red ink. Whenever a person’s name is written in red ink, it means they will die shortly or you want t them to die.
Never Use Just One Hand
Always use both hands when giving or receiving anything, including handshakes. Korea is a two handed culture, and using only one hand (especially if it is the left hand), is considered extremely rude.
Avoid Exposing Your Shoulders (Girls)
Sorry girls, but Korean is still quite the conservative country. Although they allow super mini-skirts and hot pants, girls exposing their shoulder blades are often considered too revealing.
Never Expose the Bottom of Your Foot
It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing shoes or not, exposing the bottom of your foot is a sign of disrespect. Make sure to keep both legs on the ground; and if you have to cross your legs, only use methods that do not require the bottom of your shoe being seen.