Are you curious about Korean culture? Many people are since, South Korean culture is becoming more popular all across the globe.
Perhaps you’ve heard about K-Pop, K-Dramas, Korean food, or Korean movies, but don’t know much about them. Or maybe you’ve just heard a lot about South Korea in general, and you’re curious what the country is all about.
Rest assured, you’ve come to the right place! This page is chock full o’ everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the culture of South Korea.
Read on to find out more!
Below are a ton of fantastic resources that you can explore to find out more about Korean culture. Along with the cultural information, we’ll often teach a bit of the language, such as special words or commonly used phrases that might give more depth to what you’re learning about.
Often times you’ll automatically learn Korean just by knowing more about the culture, and vice versa. You don’t need to know any Korean to read these pages, but you may find that the more you know the language, the more you can understand the culture.
They’re very intertwined!
Follow the page in order, or use the sections below to skip directly to what part of the culture interests you most.
- 1 What is South Korean culture like?
- 2 South Korean Food & Drink
- 3 Korean Cultural Norms & Society
- 4 Korean Etiquette & Manners
- 5 Communication in Korea
- 6 Korean Friends
- 7 Dating & Relationships in South Korea
- 8 Doing Business in South Korea
- 9 Korean Holidays
What is South Korean culture like?
South Korea is a unique culture with influences from China, Japan, and the West. When you first come for a visit, you will notice some things that are familiar to your home country. For example, you will likely see chain restaurants and global stores that are popular back home. At the same time, you’ll notice customs, styles, and social norms that are uniquely South Korean.
South Korea a fast-paced and well-organized country. Many people speak conversational English in the large cities (Seoul, Busan, Daegu, etc). There are a large number of Chinese, Japanese, and other foreign language speakers because of the large amount of trade and tourism in South Korea.
South Korea is strongly influenced by confucianism.
What is the History of Korean culture?
Korea is one of the oldest cultures in the world. Koreans have passed down their traditions and stories for centuries. The country started to become split between North Korea and South Korea in 1945, and since then the two Koreas have increased cultural differences.
Some of the South Korean traditional arts are ceramics, music, crafts, dance, and paintings. You can often see these displayed if you’re visiting the cultural and tourist areas of South Korea such as 인사동 (Insadong) or 명동 (Myeongdong).
What does the dragon mean in Korean culture?
If you visit traditional buildings or look at Korean artwork, you will often see dragons. In Korean culture, the dragon has a positive meaning. It symbolizes water, rain, clouds, and farming. Therefore, Korean dragons are often said to have lived in bodies of water such as oceans, rivers, and lakes.
The word for dragon in Korean is 용 (yong).
South Korean Food & Drink
Warning: Don’t read this when you’re hungry, you might start to develop a really strong appetite!
The food in South Korea is delicious and healthy, and there’s a massive variety to choose from. The drinks are also fantastic. Here’s what you need to know about South Korean cuisine:
- Delicious Korean Food You Have to Try
- 10 Unusual Korean Foods for the Daring
- Best Summer Korean Food in Korea
- Korean Winter Food You Must Try
- 7 Korean Drinks You Need To Try Immediately
- Korean Snacks: 24 You Must Try!
- Korean Alcohol: 11 Drinks You Need to Try!
- 7 Spicy Korean Foods That Will Turn You Red
Now that you know a bit more about the food culture in South Korea, try learning a few basic vocabulary words. That way you can order in Korean the next time you go to a restaurant!
Korean Cultural Norms & Society
Everything from jokes to proverbs to cultural norms, learn all about Korean norms and society.
- 55 Enlightening Proverbs and Sayings in Korea
- Top 35 Konglish Jokes
- The Meaning of Oppa, Hyung, Noona, Unnie
- All About Age in Korea
- Drinking Culture in South Korea
- Titles of Family and People in South Korea
- Ordering Food in a Korean Restaurant
Once you know about how the culture and society works for South Koreans, then you can understand a bit more about what happens in K-Dramas, Korean movies, and everyday life.
Korean Etiquette & Manners
Don’t do that!
But definitely remember to do this.
There are some simple rules to follow in Korean culture. Some aren’t as obvious as you’d think (like the chopstick rule), but really helpful to know.
Learn all about how to avoid offending South Koreans, as well as how to make a great impression.
Communication in Korea
Want to sound extra cool, both in text messages and in person?
Or maybe you want to know more about how the culture of Korea applies to text communication?
We’ve put it all together for you right here:
- How to Speak Korean
- Korean Slang: 101 Popular Words in 2019
- Korean Emoticons: The Ultimate Guide
- Satoori: How to Speak Like a Local in Korea
- Aegyo: How to be cute in Korean
- Introducing the KakaoTalk Friends
- A How-To Guide for Texting in South Korea
Looking to make some Korean friends?
Awesome, because there are plenty of Koreans who want to meet you.
Spending time with Koreans is a fantastic way to learn more about South Korean culture. You can discuss things that are interesting to you, like K-Pop songs or Korean dramas. You might even want to do a language exchange if you’re trying to learn Korean.
We’ll show you how to do it, no matter where you are in the world.
- How To Meet Korean Friends Online
- How to Make Korean Friends in South Korea
- How to Meet Korean Friends Outside South Korea
Dating & Relationships in South Korea
Curious about what dating culture is like in South Korea?
While every person is different, there are definitely some cultural norms that you’ll want to take into account.
Read on to learn all about them.
- Dating in Korea: What to Expect
- Dating Etiquette in Korea: What You Must Know
- 6 Fantastic Tips for Dating a Korean Girl
- 5 Fantastic Tips for Dating a Korean Guy
Doing Business in South Korea
South Korea is becoming more and more global each day.
With that, companies are becoming familiar with business etiquette from different parts of the world.
But there are for sure some unique cultural aspects that are Korea-specific. Here’s what you need to know.
South Korea shares a many holidays with the rest of the world, but also has some holidays unique to it’s culture. The most popular holidays are 추석 (Chuseok | Korean Thanksgiving) and 선랄 (Seollal | Korean Lunar New Year). During these two holidays, many Koreans return to their hometowns to visit their families.
During public holidays in Korea, most offices, banks and government buildings are closed. However, places like museums, restaurants, cafes, amusement parks, and shopping malls remain open. The night before most public holidays, it is usually very busy in Korea with people going out to celebrate and meet friends.
There are some Korean holidays that are culturally celebrated, but are not public holidays. Some examples of those are Pepero Day, Valentine’s Day, and White Day. Koreans do not get a day off during these holidays.
|Korean Holiday||Date||Type of Holiday|
New Year's Day
|January 1||Public Holiday|
Lunar New Year
|1st day of 1st lunar month||Public Holiday|
|February 14||Cultural Holiday|
Independence Movement Day
|March 1||Public Holiday|
|March 14||Cultural Holiday|
|April 14||Cultural Holiday|
|8th day of 4th lunar month||Public Holiday|
|May 5||Public Holiday|
|May 8||Cultural Holiday|
|June 6||Public Holiday|
|July 17||Public Holiday|
|August 15||Public Holiday|
|15th day of 8th lunar month||Public Holiday|
National Foundation Day
|October 3rd||Public Holiday|
|October 9||Public Holiday|
|November 11||Cultural Holiday|
|December 25||Public Holiday|
South Korea follows the Gregorian calendar. However, since some of the holidays follow the Lunar Calendar, the days may be different each year. That’s why some of the Korean holiday dates in the chart aren’t on a specific date. They change each year.
The public holidays typically mean that there is an official day off nationwide. The cultural holidays are observed by most Koreans, but don’t result in a day off of work.
Looking for more? Head to our Korean language and culture main page for a treasure trove of info.