South Korea has seen a shift in people’s interest in the last few years. Whether it is pop culture, fashion, food, or cities, there has been an increased interest in South Korea. But still, a few facts are not known by many people.
That’s why Korean American Priscilla Kwon has created a whole series of videos on her TikTok account. Through the series, she is talking about South Korea. She has an audience of more than 900k followers and regularly goes viral for talking about the weird things. Priscilla Kwon talks about really problematic things and the fun things that happen in Korea.
In this list, you will find some facts that you might not have known about their culture that Priscilla experienced herself and that are not just rumors about the country. Which ones did you find the most surprising? Did you know any of them? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to upvote the facts that you thought were the most interesting.
Different Ways To Bow In Korea
Paying Deposit On A Cup
Starting in June, if you do not have a reusable cup with you, you will have to pay extra to have your drink in a plastic or paper cup. In order to reduce plastic and paper waste, Korea is implementing a cup deposit, where you pay ₩200-500 ($0.17-0.42) if you don’t have a reusable cup. You get the money back when you return the paper or the plastic cup from the store you got it from and they will properly recycle it.
Questions That Are Completely Okay To Ask In Korea
몇년생이에요? (myeoch-nyeon-saeng-i-e-yo, “What year are you born?”). Because Korea has their own age system when everyone turns a year older on January 1st, people ask what year you are born, rather than how old you are.
혈액형이 뭐에요? (hyeol-aeg-hyeong-i mwo-eyo, “What’s your blood type?”). Similarly to the US where people ask what your zodiac sign is to link to personality, Koreans use blood types to link to personality.
키가 몇이야? (kiga myeoch-iya, “How tall are you?”). For some reason Koreans love to talk about height.
Things You Should Not Do In Korea
Do not walk into people’s private homes with your shoes on.
Always wait until an elderly starts eating first.
Don’t drink water front facing the elders. Always turn to the side and then drink.
Never use one hand to get or receive things. You have to use both hands to either give or receive.
Things That Are Currently Banned At K-Pop Concerts In Korea
If you attend an in-person concert in Korea any form of yelling, cheering or screaming is banned. Because fans are not allowed to scream or make any noise verbally, K-pop group NU’EST who recently had an in-person concert in Korea, designed a fan clap guide to substitute the classic fan chants.
Why Do Koreans Use A Spoon Alongside With Chopsticks?
If you have been to Korean, Chinese and Japanese restaurants, you may have noticed that the chopstick sizes are different and from the three countries only Koreans traditionally use a spoon to eat rice. And among the three countries Korean utensils are metal. Because silver changes color when exposed to toxins, Korean royals used silver spoons and chopsticks to detect poison in their food. This practice became a trend for commoners and using metal utensils became a thing. When eating rice, unlike Japanese, Koreans do not pick up the bowl so the long length helps with movement.
Things You Should Know When Shopping In Korea
A lot of the times when you walk into a clothing store, the clothing sizes are just S, M, L, XL. and the sizes are a lot smaller. For example, I wear a US size 2 (US size S), but in Korea I cannot fit into a S.
The return Policy in Korea is not that great. Compared to the US where you can return anything even after using the product, the second you take it out of its packaging, you cannot return it in Korea.
New Laws That Have Been Made In Korea Because Of Korean Celebrities
Starting this month [June, 2021] Korean male celebrities cannot go to the military when they’re under investigation. This is one the most common tactics we’ve seen from male celebrities whenever there’s some kind of controversy or investigation, you often see them just going to the military. By doing this, it makes it harder for the investigation to proceed and most importantly, you’re out of the public’s attention for 2 years and most of the time people just forget.
The Gu Hara Act prevents parents from inheriting their children’s assets when they didn’t even fulfill their parental duties. Gu Hara’s mother abandoned her and her brother when they were very little. She wasn’t present in Hara’s life until she died in November 2019. She showed up to the funeral and demanded 50 percent of Hara’s assets [typically 50 percent went to the mother and father each]. Unfortunately, this act doesn’t apply to Hara [as it was passed in 2021] and 40 percent was given to the mother [the rest was given to the father who gave his share to Gu Hara’s brother]. But the rest of the money will be used to help single parents and struggling trainees.
Things That Are Considered Rude In Korean Culture
Unless you’re the oldest person, never take the first bite. It is a Korean tradition to wait until the oldest person sitting at the dinner table takes the first bite. If you start eating before your grandfather takes his first bite, it is considered rude.
Wearing colored clothing to a funeral. As there are many different funeral customs around the world, some countries have very festive funerals where people wear bright colors and the overall atmosphere is positive to celebrate the life the person lived. But the funeral customs in Korea are dark and sad and nothing near celebrating. It is common etiquette to show up to a Korean funeral wearingblack. Darker clothing is okay, but if you wear bright colors, it will be a bad impression.
Some Of The Most Random Traits That Are Considered Beautiful In Korea
Having a mole on your nose. Korean actresses like Jeon Ji-Hyun, Han Ga-In are recognized for their pretty nose mole. At one point it was even a trend to get a tattoo on your nose to make it look like a mole.
Having a raised mouth tail.
Having an egg-shaped face.
Craziest Day In Korea
One of the craziest days in Korea is 수능 (su-neung) testing day which is kind of the same things as an SAT in America. However, unlike in America where the SAT which can be taken multiple times, Koreans get one shot at the exam. So if they don’t do well they have to wait until the next year to take the exam. It’s a day that they have been preparing for their entire lives which also explains why the suicide rates soar this time of year. On this day, businesses open late, highschools close, people are encouraged to stay off the roads to help students get to the testing site.
Here are some crazy things that happen on this day. If you forget your student ID, a police car will go get it for you. Parents will literally be outside of the school holding banners supporting their kids and praying they do well. Parents also participate in a religious gathering to pray for their child to do well. Miyeok guk (미역국) is strictly prohibited because it will cause the answers to slip out of their head. Sticky candy is a yes because it will help you stick to the university you want to get into.
Things That Koreans Do That Doesn’t Make Sense Until You Know The Meaning Behind It
Bringing tofu to prison. It’s not the cooked tofu. When you’re on your way to pick up a friend or family member from prison, you bring a chuck of tofu with you and then the person released from prison takes a big bite of the tofu. Because the tofu is pearly white, it’s a symbol of cleansing the soul and a new beginning. By eating the tofu, the convict resolves to living a crime-free life moving forward.
Throwing salt in the vicinity of someone who left bad energy. Back in the day, a lot of Koreans believed in spirits and ghosts. They believed the root cause of illnesses and just bad things rooted from bad spirits. So say that a Karen walks into your restaurant and you don’t want her negative energy to stay in your restaurant. You just throw salt at the entrance where she walked out.
Things Koreans Are Taught Not To Do Starting At A Young Age
If you whistle at night, an adult will say something like 휘파람 불자마 (hwi-pa-lam bul-ja-ma, ‘Don’t whistle’!). If you whistle at night, you’re gonna call the ghosts out.
An English Word Used In Korea That Isn’t Used In America The Way Koreans Use It
화이팅 (hwa-i-ting): it technically says fighting but in Korea it means ‘you got this/good luck!’
Random Things You Often See Koreans Doing In Public
Wearing a hair roll. And you’ll often see people holding a mirror and fixing their makeup in public.
Doing skincare on the plane, including sheet masks.
Things That Do Not Exist In Korea
The tipping culture. In Korea, after you eat at a restaurant, you do not leave extra tip for the waiters.
Smiling when you make eye contact with a stranger. In the US when you’re walking and you make eye contact with a stranger, smiling at them is not considered weird at all. However, if you smile at a stranger in Korea, they might think you’re weird.
An English Word Used In Korea But Not In America
Skinship (스킨십) is used to describe the act of intimate and not sexual touching between you and anyone close to you. It can include close friends, family members, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. For example, hugging, locking your arms, kiss on the cheek, holding hands.
Most Common Superstition That Exist In Korea
Never write someone’s name in red ink because it symbolizes death.
Number 4 is unlucky because it symbolizes death. Fun fact: since number 4 is unlucky in Korea a lot of people refuse to live on the fourth floor which is why a lot of the time fourth floor rooms are a lot cheaper.
Do not place a mirror in front of the front door because it reflects all of the good luck that tries to come in inside your house.
Do not gift shoes to your significant other because it will cause them to run away from you.
Something That Is Considered Super Important In Korean Culture Is 인성 (In-Seong, ‘Attitude/Your Mannerism/True Colors’)
A lot of times when Korean celebrities are exposed for bad behavior, international fans say things like “who cares, if they’re good at their job, that’s all that matters.” However, that is not the case in Korea. Even in the show Produce 101 they spilled coke on the ground to see if the girls will do anything off camera. Among the girls who acted like they didn’t see anything because it wasn’t their mess, Kim Se-Jeong cleaned up everything and became more popular.
Things That Are Normal In Korea
Girls holding hands. In Korea it is very common to see girls holding hands with each other and walking with their arms locked to each other. It just means their besties.
Seeing no color in the streets during the winter time. Long black puffer. So I need to say more? Everyone wears them. It’s definitely one of those things where you didn’t know you needed it until you got it.
Things You Need To Pack When Traveling To Korea
Deodorant. Because East Asians lack the gene for smelly armpits, a lot of Koreans don;t wear deodorant which makes deodorant really hard to find in Korea.
Tampons. Although Koreans do use tampons, it is a lot harder to find different sizes and varieties of tampons.
Foundation. It’s a lot harder to find variety in foundation shades in Korea.
Full-sized towels. Koreans like to use small-sized towels for its convenience so it is a little harder to find full-sized ones.
Korea Facts You Should Know About Before Visiting
Korean public transportation is extremely efficient and cheap. If you have any of the t-money cards, depending on how many times you transfer, you’ll be spending a maximum $2 per trip.
In a lot of places you’ll find soju is cheaper than water.
Don’t expect to have personal space, especially if you’re out in the city like Seoul.
South Korea is a safe country with low crime rates but of course, when it gets late at night, you do have to be careful.
Things You Should Know About Bullying In Korea
The Korean entertainment industry has been flooded by bullying allegations recently and here are some things you should know. A lot of international fans argue that everyone gets bullied in school and it’s not that big of a deal.
But here are some main differences between bullying in America and bullying in Korea. To start off, in English there is the term ‘bullying’, but in Korea they just use the acronym for 학교 (hak-kio, ‘school’) and 폭력/폭행 (pog-lyeog/pog-haeng, ‘violence’) and say 학폭 (hak-pok). The fact that the term ‘violence’ is used to describe bullying, you kind of really know how serious it is. Bullying in Korean schools isn’t really stealing someone’s lunch money or calling someone a mean name. The act of bullying in Korea is literally wanting to prove superiority by completely degrading someone’s dignity. The bullying you see in k-dramas happens in real life.
Strange Beauty Standards That Exist In Korea
Mouth tail that’s raised upwards – gives off a “softer” look even when you’re not smiling.
Big ear lobes – symbolize good luck and prosperity.
Full undereye – makes you look youthful.
Why Koreans Bring Toilet Paper And Laundry Detergent As A Housewarming Gift?
Besides toilet paper and cleaning supplies being something everyone can never have too much of, cleaning supplies bring good luck and fortune to the person who moves into the new home. The bubbles and the detergent symbolize prosperity, wealth and stability for the recipient. The long length of toilet paper symbolizes long healthy life and just how easily the toilet paper unravels, the gift giver desires continued success for the recipient and for everything in life to unravel smoothly.
Schools In Seoul Are Finally Letting Female Students Wear Whatever Color Bra They Wan
You probably already know that Korean students wear uniforms, but you probably don’t know how strict they are when it comes to not just dress code but physical appearance. Throughout the years the rules have become more lenient but at one point all female students had to have the same hair length. You weren;t allowed to wear makeup, you weren’t allowed to have piercings and you know kids are on break when they bleach their hair. Recently they went after schools in Seoul that had dress codes talking about bras, stockings and socks. Because the school uniform shirt is white, the dress code states that you have to wear a white or a skin-tone bra. Not quite sure if it’s gonna make a crazy difference but at least they can’t call you out for it.
Is Korea Allowing Strangers To Come To Your House Now?
About a decade ago, the most common household was comprised of 4 people, but now that number is 1. The marriage rate and birth rate hit all-time lows and the number of people living alone is continuing to skyrocket. To accommodate this big group of people living alone starting in November  Seoul city is rolling out the door-to-door service. One of the biggest downsides to living alone is that you’re kinda left alone during times of emergency or when you have to go to the hospital. The door-to-door service allows someone to come to your house to escort you to the hospital and just become your helping hand. The service rate has been set to ₩5,000 ($4,25) an hour and the service is expected to be especially helpful for the elders living alone. But there are some mixed responses. While there are positive ones, there are also safety concerns.
Why Korean Men Are Required To Serve The Military?
From ages 18 to 28, if you are a healthy Korean man, you have to serve in the military for a little bit less than 2 years.
The first reason is kind of obvious. South Korea is still at war. We’re only a couple of weeks into 2022 and North Korea fired its fourth missile test. And unlike in other countries like the US, a lot of Koreans do not voluntarily join the military. So without conscription it is impossible to have enough military in case something were to happen.
There are times when healthy Korean men can get military exemption like soccer player Son Heung-Min who won a gold medal for South Korea at the 2018 Asian games.
Did You Know That In Korea If You’re Born On December 30, You Turn 2 Years Old On January 1st?
The Korean age will always be at least a year older than the international age because they count the time you spend in the womb before being born. Even though Koreans do celebrate their birthdays, everyone turns 1 year older on January 1st. Here’s how to calculate your Korean age: take the current year, add one and subtract your birth year.
Mannerisms That Exist In Korea But Not America
The phrase 잘먹었습니다 (jal-meog-eoss-seub-nid-a) which is said after eating, meaning “I ate well.” Or 잘먹겠습니다 (jal-meog-gess-seub-ni-da) which is said before eating, meaning “I’ll eat well.”
The 90 degree bow.