Korea is a pretty conservative country. Previously accustomed to a blend of Western and African culture, I quickly noticed some oddities that were commonplace to the Korean people. There are certainly some habits I can’t quite get used to, such as that women generally do not expose cleavage but will wear very short skirts in public. Since coming here, I’ve been conscious of whether I need a cardigan when I go out or if my sleeves are too short. Nonetheless, here are some Korean habits I have picked up whilst living here.
Making a ‘V’ in Photos
One thing I have noticed in almost every photo is literally everyone holding the peace sign. It did not mean much to me, but I never thought I would end up associating with the gesture. Now, my fingers automatically make a V-shape, regardless of whether the situation calls for it. I also tend to cup a V shape under my chin in selfies too…
Bowing is an everyday part of Korean culture, a necessity when addressing an older person or a stranger. When I first came to Korea, it was impossible not to stare in amazement at all of the bowing. However, I now found myself bowing unconsciously, particularly when saying “thank you.”
Before I came to Korea, I chose shoes for their style and comfort. But now, I buy shoes according to how fast I can slip them on and off. It is customary to remove shoes when entering homes in Korea, as well as many traditional Asian restaurants. You don’t want to be the person everyone is waiting for to get into their shoes after eating!
I’ve also ended up wearing sneakers with almost any attire, whereas back home I would buy shoes for different occasions. That is a Korean habit I hope to drop soon
Checking my Reflection 24/7
There are mirrors EVERYWHERE in Korea. Bathrooms, elevators, handbags… The list goes on. You will find plenty of Koreans checking their reflections and taking bathroom mirror selfies and, well, I appeared to have joined them.
Brushing my Teeth After Eating
I pride myself as a clean person who takes her dental health seriously. I used to brush my teeth every morning and night, as recommended, but now I brush after almost every meal! Most Koreans do this, especially the younger generations. This is in part due to the strong flavours of Korean food. Almost every dish contains garlic and so they brush to purge the garlic stench. As I’ve gotten used to eating Korean food more regularly I find myself brushing too!
So, these were a few Korean habits I picked up while living in Seoul. Which is your favourite?