South Korea: A Blend of Heritage and Modernity

Vanshika Mittal, Delhi

The East Asian Country that we know as South Korea, is known as Hanguk in Korean and officially referred to as the Republic of Korea i.e. Daehan Minguk. The country constitutes the southern part of the Korean peninsula and shares one of the most heavily militarized borders with North Korea.

Koreans in traditional dress || The Korean Flag || The Lotte World Tower in Seoul
Picture Credits : Wikipedia

Here are some of the facts about South Korea that you should know:

Blend of Nature and Technology: South Korea is famous in the world for its high-tech cities such as Seoul (the capital) and advanced technologies such as 5G, along with the centuries-old Buddhist temples, green lush mountains, countryside sprinkled with cherry trees, and of course for its rich culture.

Positive Economic Environment: Within one decade, South Korea changed its status from being a developing country to a developed one and is currently ranked as the eleventh-largest economy worldwide. The country heavily depends on exports and tourism that contributes to its GDP. South Korea’s soft culture in the form of the Hallyu Wave is also one of the major contributors towards boosting the economy of the country.

Unique Language System: The official language of South Korea is Korean whose sentence structure, vocabulary and grammar is very similar to Japanese. The Korean language was invented in the mid-fifteenth century by King Sejong to simplify the language in the everyday life of Koreans and is also one of the most practical language systems in the world. Thanks to that, the country now boasts having one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

Attraction of Korean Food: Korean Cuisine is gradually receiving more attraction and recognition at the global level. Korean cuisine is generally based on meat, rice and vegetables. Kimchi, prepared from cabbage, fermented and stored for a long period; is the national dish of South Korea. ‘Banchan’ are side dishes made in large numbers and are served alongside the main dish.

Widespread Audience of Korean Music: Gangnam Style‘ by Psy, a South Korean musician, achieved worldwide fame in 2012. This song refers to the Gangnam District of Seoul, a classy area, a trendy and equated with Hollywood. Over time, Korean music especially K-Pop has attracted global fan base, with many singers and boy/girl groups having an international audience.

Traditions and Customs: South Korea is well-known for its rich culture and heritage. If you want to be more acquainted with the Korean culture, here I am sharing some of the interesting traditions and customs of South Korea that can come handy for your trip to South Korea:

  1. Kibun‘, basically in English, refers to pride, mood, feelings, and state of mind. If someone hurts other’s kibun, it means that they hurt their pride, causing them to lose dignity. It is one of the most important cultural aspects of South Korea where everyone has to take care of not hurting anyone’s kibun and at the same time take care of your own kibun. People avoid confronting or insulting elders that could lead to losing their dignity.
  2. Nunchi‘ is used to define other’s kibun in a non-verbal manner. It’s accomplished by observing the body language & listening to the tone of their voice in a communication. 
  3. Bowing is the traditional way to greet in South Korea. Handshakes are often accompanied by the bow among men. However, women do not always shake hands and may slightly bow instead of a full bow. They always bow to individuals while departing or leaving the conversation. Furthermore, the degree of bend in a bow also represents the amount of respect you show for a person. The lower the bending while bowing, the higher the amount of respect. But, you need to be careful about this, as you do not need to overdo it.
  4. Never hug or pat South Korean people on their backs especially if you are a stranger or have just met them. South Korean people respect everyone’s personal space and hence do not like to be touched by someone with whom they are unfamiliar. Prolonged and direct eye contact can seem like a challenge and is also considered rude and impolite. One should avoid crossing legs and limit their arm movements when explaining something.
  5. South Koreans enjoy giving gifts and are very generous people. They accept the gift with both hands but open only in the absence of the giver. People do not give over-expensive gifts among each other as they feel indebted to give back as much as they receive. 
  6. Before arriving as a guest at a South Korean’ home, always remember to remove your shoes in the designated space which is usually at the entrance of the home. Avoid being late intentionally as punctuality is highly respected, however arriving within half an hour of the actual time is generally acceptable.
  7. Being invited to visit someone’s home in South Korea is considered an honor, so one must treat it as such. Be polite and observe their customs and behavior. Once the party is over, you will generally be escorted to the gate by the host. This is a sign of respect. Overall, the Korean culture is all about being respectful, genuine, and kind to each other.

Which aspect of Korean Culture you like the most? Do tell us in the comment section!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Vanshika Mittal says:

    Amazing!! 😍❀

  2. Vansh says:

    Informative 😍😍

  3. Viraj says:

    That’s I love South Korea more and more 😁❀

  4. Vansh Mittal says:

    Woww! πŸ˜πŸ‘

  5. Vishu says:

    Great! Go on 😘😍

  6. Sushma says:

    Veryy gooodd!! 😍😍😘

  7. Jubby Kumar says:

    Good job πŸ™ŒπŸ˜πŸ‘Œ

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