Relationships in Korea

Probably, the question about relationships is most important in the world. Different cultures mean different rules. Different people mean different relationships. All the relationships in South Korea are built according to principles of hierarchy. 



Even in ancient times in Korea, the study of Confucianism played an important role. It was impossible to enter the military service, which in those days was considered prestigious, without knowledge of the fundamentals of Confucianism. And one of the principles of Confucianism is hierarchy and a special attitude towards elders. And, the senior is not always the senior in age, it can be the senior on a rank, on a post, etc.


Therefore, in Korea when you meet new people the question about your age is more important than the name. Since, it is important to understand how to address your interlocutor: respectful «You» or you can go to the informal «You».

By the way, speaking about dating. 3 most important questions: Age, Name and Blood type. As for the age, we figured out, and as for the blood group, then it is important to understand whether you are compatible or not. Of course, today not all acquaintances are accompanied by such questions, and in the most cases, the blood group is asked when acquainted with the opposite sex, but still, sooner or later this question will be voiced.


In general, the Koreans believe in compatibility in the blood group. Yes, and the nature of a person is determined by the blood group. And when you get a job, the resume has this point. But about employment, and about what it’s like to work in a Korean company, I’ll tell you next time.

Let’s get back to the hierarchy. There is a hierarchy in Korean universities too. There is a clear difference between seniors (sonbae) and juniors (hoobae) in Korean universities. So juniors should call their seniors «Senior!» but not by name. But seniors call their juniors by name.

I guess Korean language is one of the most respectful languages in the world. There are at least 3 levels of polite forms in Korean language. Even some words are different according to the level of politeness. 

Usually, at least once seniors should by a lunch for their juniors. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should to all of juniors in your faculty, just to juniors which you know. Actually, juniors come to seniors and ask them to buy a lunch.

Even at the working place you can see the same traditions. On the west we used to call our seniors by name but in Korea we call our senior by their position.

What about relationships between husband and wife or girlfriend and boyfriend? When people just started to date they usually use the polite form. Well, its fine…cuz its just beginning. However, in Korea many couples use that form even after marriage, even when they already have kids. If you watch Korean dramas you know what I am talking about.

Korean drama Heojun

Korean girls call their boyfriend ‘Oppa’, and don’t use the name. Oppa means ‘elder brother’ so that word is using when girls call their elder brother too. But for boys elder brother will be ‘Hyon’ in korean.

Husband and wife can call each other ‘dear’ or ‘Yeobo’ in Korean.


Korean-Canadian couple

Of course, not 100% of couples and families use polite form of ‘You’ for a whole life. More precisely, this percentage is gradually decreasing. Especially due to the increase in the number of mixed couples, and no one canceled Americanization in Korea.

I remember when I came to Korea, and I had new Korean friends, I almost immediately suggested switching to «You». After this phrase, the interlocutors had a short shock, and immediately they could see their confusion. They did not know how to react. And even if they agreed to switch to an informal form of communication, they felt uncomfortable. Especially, if the interlocutor was older than me by age. Those, sometimes were not particularly happy. So what?! At that time I did not know how strict they were with these matters. I’m used to the fact that my friends are always on «You», although some of them are 10 years older than me.

In general, if you meet with Koreans, then try to adhere to this respectful «You». First, make a good impression on the interlocutor. Secondly, there is a chance to win the disposition of the interlocutor. Respect in South Korea — the basis of any relationship

The Korean way to greet a person

And yet, when greeting or expressing gratitude, as well as in parting, in Korea, it is customary to bow, that is, to lower the trunk forward. And the lower you lower the trunk, the more respect you express. On this I put the last point in this article, bowing low to you.


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