Did you know, in South Korea you should never leave chopsticks in your rice?
You should never beckon anyone with palm up, using one finger? That's the way Koreans call their dogs.
That writing someone's name in red symbolizes death?
Well, now you do. Here are five other things to know to help you plan your trip to South Korea.
South Korea has a lot of variation in weather and temperature from season to season, so pack accordingly, and be ready in case of rain or snow.
"It gets cold! I was there in December and it dropped to well below freezing. While I'm used to cold weather, I hadn't packed the right clothing with me, so I didn't enjoy South Korea as much as I could have. Be sure to carefully think through your packing list." - Gary Arndt, Everything-Everywhere
Public transportation in South Korea is fast, efficient, and clean, ranging from high-speed bullet trains (KTX) to ferries, buses, and taxis. Many major cities have their own subway systems – Seoul’s subway is considered one of the best in the world. Public transit is typically safe, but it’s always wise to keep your wits about you, and be aware of local etiquette – for example, don’t sit in the seats at the ends of the subway car, even if the car isn’t full. Those are reserved for the pregnant, elderly, and disabled.
"If you're on a crowded bus and standing, don't be surprised if a passenger seated under you tugs at your bag. They are typically just offering to have you rest your bag on their lap. Politely decline or, if feeling it's safe, place the bag on their lap, but keep the strap around your arm/wrist." - Christina Tunnah, World Nomads
Transportation cards are invaluable if you’ll be taking public transit in South Korea. These convenient, reloadable cards can be used to pay fares on public buses, subways, and taxis in cities around the country. There are three main options: the Korea Tour Card, T-Money, and Cashbee. The Korea Tour Card is for international visitors only – it’s more expensive than the others, but includes small discounts on certain popular attractions. T-Money and Cashbee are somewhat more widely accepted.
Transportation cards can be purchased at airports, convenience stores, or subway stations. Once you’ve purchased your card, you’ll need to load it with money for your fares.
"Peak summer, from late June to late August, starts off with the monsoon season, when the country receives some 60% of its annual
Although air conditioning makes summers much more bearable these days, many locals flee the muggy cities for the mountains, beaches, and islands, which become crowded, and accommodation prices double. There is also the chance of a typhoon or two." - Lonely Planet
Public protest is part of everyday life in South Korea, but occasionally they can turn violent. You should also bear in mind that large gatherings have an extra degree of risk these days due to COVID-19.
"News listings about demonstrations should be checked, especially near US Military bases." - Keith from GeckoGo.com
It always helps to know a little bit of the local language. We know that Korean isn't exactly a language you can pick up overnight, so here are a couple phrases to get you started:
Hello: AHN-NYUNG HA-SEH-YO
Goodbye: AHN-NYUNG-HEE GA-SEH-YO
Thank you: GAM-SAH HAM-NEE-DA
It is nice to meet you: BAN-GAP SUP-NEE-DA
Take me to my hotel: HOTEL-LO GAP-SEE-DA
Please: No direct translation. Has to be used in context.
Want to avoid faux pas and causing offense? Get more etiquette tips for South Korea here.
Is there anything that could make you sick in South Korea? From medical facilities to vaccinations, here's what you need to know.
There's more to Korea than bustling cities, neon lights, and K-Pop music. Here's a list of ways to get off the beaten path in South Korea.