Now I've Seen Everything
Now I've Seen Everything

20+ Things About South Korea That Tourists Just Don’t Understand

South Korea is famous for its unique beauty products, teenage series, and high-quality devices. It seems that people there don’t want to be anything like people from other counties. They eat, dress, and sleep differently from the rest of the world.

  • Unlike most other countries, in South Korea, tips are not welcome. In fact, they might be quite insulting: waiters have a high enough income, so they don’t need tips.
  • Beckoning someone over by waving your hand toward yourself while the palm is pointing up is rude. Instead, Koreans turn their palm down and make the same movements.
  • And beckoning someone over with one finger is one of the rudest things you can possibly do.
Lee Young Ho / Sipa / East News
  • In some Korean clothing stores, you can’t try on T-shirts, shirts, or blouses. It’s because local girls love makeup, and they might accidentally stain a piece of clothing.
  • If you want to drink, you don’t have to buy water. You can go into any restaurant or building and get it for free from a dispenser or a drinking fountain.
  • We’re used to drinking tomato juice salty. In Korea, this drink is very different: most coffee places and restaurants make it like a smoothie, and it’s sweet with sugar or syrup.
  • It’s not just about what people say, but also about how they say it. To show affection and a friendly attitude, Korean women use aegyo — cute, childish gestures and voices. Men might also do it, but not as much.
  • Aegyo is used in the service sector to show hospitality.
  • Opening a present when the person who gave it is there is not appropriate. It might look rude if you don’t know about this tradition, but it’s totally normal in South Korea.
  • A Korean might say, “You have such a small face,” if they want to show their admiration. It’s a confusing thing for a foreigner. But in South Korea, it’s what people say to other people when they think someone is attractive or stylish. It’s a compliment.
Everett Collection / East News
  • Not all South Koreans have beds we’re used to. For a long time, they slept on the floor, and the older generation is more used to this. This is why some older Korean people sleep on stone beds: instead of a mattress, they have a hard surface with stone chips underneath it. These beds often have heating systems in them.
  • In South Korea, despite all the advanced technology, divination is very popular. When walking around the central streets of Seoul and other cities, you can stop by small booths where psychics can tell you about your future. Koreans take it very seriously and do it before important events: like exams, opening a business, and so on. It may be because going to a psychologist is still frowned upon, and traditions in this country are very strong.
  • There are a lot of interesting jobs in this country. For example, you can play a beggar in an amusement park or work as a wedding guest. The latter are hired to demonstrate family status. You can earn good money by taking part in the ceremony (40 minutes) and you can eat for free.
  • Both men and women prefer long clothing. It’s hard to find people who love short down jackets, but long dresses and coats are extremely popular.
  • Wearing a V-neck tank top will attract more attention than usual.
  • Koreans love voluminous clothes. Korean women are quite small, so oversize clothes make them look very cute.
CITAlliance / easyfotostock / East News, © Shutterstock.com
  • Another thing about the local style is that they don’t wear high heels. Girls prefer flat shoes, and even if there’s a heel, it’s usually very short. Stilettos are not popular in Korea: it’s thought that heels should be comfortable and stable.
  • Many Koreans wear shoes 1-2 sizes bigger. They think that the foot needs breathing room, and bigger sizes are exactly what they need.
© Depositphotos.com, PacificCoastNews / East News
  • Korean beauty standards are different from European standards. They think that perfect skin, a V-shaped jaw, and small bags under the eyes are attractive.
  • While the entire world has continued to make their lips fuller, Koreans do everything to make them smaller. They think that the eyes are the most important, and bright lipsticks shouldn’t overshadow them.
  • Girls apply lipstick in the middle, and then, carefully, using a brush or a cotton swab, they spread it around the rest of their lips, creating a gradient.
Instagram / East News, Brent N. Clarke / Invision / AP / East News
  • To create the puppy-eyes effect, girls use brown eyeliner that looks softer and more natural than black eyeliner. With eyeshadows, Koreans are careful to not apply them too heavily.
  • Also, Korean women don’t like it when their eyebrows have clear lines. Instead, they like them straight with a small arc at the end: it makes them look more natural and younger.
  • The “Aegyo sal” trend is very popular among Korean women. Girls draw bags under their eyes to make themselves look younger and cuter. And some girls even get surgery and get fat implants under their eyes.
ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP / East News

After writing this article, we’re convinced that we want to spend a summer vacation in South Korea. Which of the peculiarities about this country did you like the most? Would you like to spend a night on a stone bed or drink a glass of sweet tomato juice?

Preview photo credit ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP / East News
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