A very interesting article I came across in Korea Times. It talks about some of the customs and practices “unique” to Koreans. People planning to come to Korea or already living here should take the time to read it. Here’s the link to the article: 10 Unique Korean Customs and Practices (1950-2007). I’ve written some additional info and personal experiences below.
Jimjilbang. I haven’t been to one but they’re ubiquitous in Korea. They’re mostly open 24 hours and are sometimes used as an alternative to hotels or motels to save on accomodation. My husband likes to go there but I wouldn’t since I just can’t stand the heat. They’re inexpensive at just 7,000 won (about $7) per person.
Ondol. I like the “ondol” style of heating. This is the reason why people in Korea sit or sleep on the floor.
Jeonse. Imagine not having to spend a cent for your apartment! That is, if you have the “key money” to deposit to your landlord. The amount of money for “jeonse” is huge. In my apartment complex, it is about $100,000 for a two year lease. The good thing is you can get the full amount when you move out. This is probably one of the reasons why Koreans don’t move out until they get married.
Adultery as a crime. As far as I know, adultery is also a crime in the Philippines. To say that adultery is not prevalent in Korea’s society is a hypocrisy. In an article in Korea Times, it was said that 65 percent of married men had “dated” other women and 41 percent of married women had dated men other than their husbands. There are also so many “love motels” in Korea.
Envelope culture. It might sound tacky but it’s really a lot more practical than having to spend hours and hours finding the right gift. Usually, we give 50,000 won (more than $50) for a couple in their wedding or for a baby’s first birthday. (But it’s really tacky!)
Private tutoring heat. Private learning institutes or “hag-wons” are a big business in Korea. They cater to people from all ages, from children to adults.
Beating the soles of the groom. Frankly, I haven’t heard of this one. I haven’t attended a wedding where they did this. Or I was probably already in the buffet room eating when it’s being done.
Baby’s first birthday party. We made our son do this. I just don’t remember what he picked. It’s the part of the party that’s most anticipated.
Delivery service. Ah! I just love the delivery service here in Korea. Some restaurants will deliver even at 4 o’clock in the morning. At one time, we tried to order “kkot ke tang” (crab stew) at 2 o’clock in the morning and it was delivered 15 minutes later. There are also a lot of restaurants that will deliver even if your total order is just 3,000 won (or $3). And yes, they deliver your milk and yogurt in the morning too.
Sharing liquor glass in rounds. This is a shocker! I had experienced this on my first week in Korea. Refusing is a no-no and will offend your Korean hosts. I was also shocked that Koreans don’t use serving spoons. Imagine eating from the same bowl of stew with other people in the group. Yikes!