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South Korea A couple holding hands walking down a sidewalk in South Korea while travelling.

10 Tips For Living South Korea

You can learn some fascinating, entertaining, and odd facts about Korean culture if you visit Korea. Additionally, you might see things that seem unusual in a cultural context and wonder, “Is this even normal?!” You need not look any further; you are in the proper location. We’d like to provide 10 random living and travelling suggestions for Korea.

Tipping Is A No No In Korea!

Absolutely unacceptable in Korea. That means you won’t have to stress about leaving tips for restaurants or whether you have cash. If you tip a waiter or even a taxi driver in a restaurant, they will undoubtedly give you the “huh?” look. While the most of your time in Korea will be tip-free, some higher end establishments may include tips in your bill.

Korean Theater Advice

Everybody has experienced situations where they had to search for chairs and occasionally say, “pardon me, is anyone sitting here?” Well, some clever person in Korea meticulously designed the concept of reserved seats in movie theatres. If you don’t enjoy sitting in the front row, you’ll need to plan ahead and get early reservations (smartphone applications are typically the easiest). You’ll be OK as long as you purchase your tickets early for the best seats.

Recommendation: For a unique cinematic experience in Korea, visit one of the country’s 4D IMAX theatres (3D movie with wind, rain, vibrations, odours, etc.).

Littering No. Spitting…

Even though trash is illegal to litter in Korea, the legislation still doesn’t seem to apply in some parts of Seoul. However, other places are more rigorous (such as parks and more affluent districts), and in some places, like the area near Gangnam Station, you can even get fined for putting out a cigarette butt! But who made any remarks on spitting in public? If you see an ajeoshi hocking a massive poogie in the restroom or on the streets of Korea, don’t be shocked. Even though not everyone appreciates it, many Korean men still do it (Oh, and sometimes women too :P).

No Daylight Savings

Since Korea is such a busy nation, it is difficult to make even tiny adjustments to the citizens. Some Koreans think that changing the clock for daylight savings, even by an hour, might have a positive or negative impact on the economy. Samsung won’t allow that! Introducing Daylight Saving Time The Korean government has attempted to introduce time almost every year but has always been denied. Time has been on the list of things to do. On top of that, there’s always that one friend who forgets and arrives at work an hour late!

You Can Pay For Everyones Meal…On Occasion

In Korea, dividing the bill has grown increasingly popular among students and younger people; but, if you start include elders in the group, they may offer to pay for it all. Hierarchy and the Confucian philosophy as a whole begin to take shape at this point. Visit our video on Korean table manners to learn more about how the eldest person typically begins eating first. However, if you’ve seen enough Korean dramas, you already know this, don’t you?

You Can Use “Perm” as an Action Word

OK, good. This is completely unrelated to living or travelling in Korea, yet it’s still very weird. another image of a man sporting a perm? I can’t let this go by. The Korean word for “perm” is (pama, which sounds crazy cute by the way). But in Korean, it can also be a verb. My hair is “oneul pamahaesseoyo” (), which I permed.

The boss questions your five-hour tardiness to work. “Sorry boss, I was perming my hair,” you reply.

“Okay, no problem. I’ll excuse you because you were perming your hair. (Really not!)

*Today, I had my hair straightened!

When using a toothpick, cover your mouth.

Using toothpicks at the table may not be considered the best table manners by some. But it’s widespread in Korea. However, at least Korean toothpick users are aware that the image isn’t the best. Because of this, most users cover their toothpicks with the other hand when using them. This is done with the intention of hiding the unpleasant material you are saving for later. Additionally, it’s presumably to avoid that embarrassing situation where you accidentally flick some galbi onto someone else’s arm. (Tip: Act as if it never happened.)

You Must Use Garbage Bags Issued by the District

You are required to buy a basic rubbish bag in almost every neighbourhood and city in Korea. The majority of the trash bags have a special designation for the city in which you live. “Only for usage in Anyang,” for instance. (A Korean city in Gyeonggi-do). Additionally, you can get garbage bags in various sizes to suit your requirements. They typically come in trash bags that are 5, 10, 20, and even 50 litres in capacity. These garbage bags, known as Sseulaegi Bongtu ( ), are available at your neighbourhood grocery store.

Tip: In Korea, you cannot carry your purchased waste bags with you when you move apartments or to a different district. Be considerate and leave them there for the new owner. For all the information you need on trash in Korea, see our other post.

When using the escalators, keep to the right

Remember that even escalators in Korea have a unique manner of managing human traffic when you’re there. Stay to the right if all you want to do is stand. Walk up the escalator on the left side to get to the top quickly. Sometimes, you’ll see people simply blocking traffic on the left, and occasionally, you’ll hear elderly women shouting, “Hey, bud, remain on the right side! aigoo!!!” See our additional guidelines for using the Seoul Subway Map!

Seoul to Busan and Jeonju Free Shuttle Buses

This is among our list of the top ten things to obtain for free in Seoul and is appropriate for both tourists and locals. For individuals who want to tour more of Korea than just Seoul, the Visit Korea Committee provides complimentary shuttle buses. All you need is a passport or alien registration card, and a reservation made 10 days in advance. We also suggest scheduling a food tour with O’ngo Cuisine Communications (formerly known as if you’re going to Jeonju for some seriously good food (and drinks, if you’re like that ;)).

James Yeong
James Yeong

Once a quaint dweller of the English countryside, James is now a vibrant voice narrating his adventures in the bustling heart of South Korea. Since relocating to Seoul in 2019, James has immersed himself in the dynamic tapestry of Korean culture, from the serene temples tucked away in mountainous terrains to the neon-lit streets of modern cities.

This blog has become a haven for those seeking an outsider's yet intimate perspective on South Korea, often shedding light on hidden gems and local favourites rather than just the typical tourist hotspots. With a keen eye for detail and a writing style dripping with wit and warmth, James has managed to amass a devoted readership from all corners of the globe.

Whether you're planning a trip to the Seoul, the surrounding cities or just vicariously traveling from the comfort of your couch, Jame's tales of exploration and discovery are sure to ignite a passion for the Land of the Morning Calm.

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