Your DSP Relcoations Asia Office in Korea

DSP Relocations Korea
40, Hangang-daero 52-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, 04382, Korea.

Tel        : +82 2 795 2177
Fax       : +82 2 795 2613
E-mail  : korea@dsprelocations.com


Local time :
KOREA - FACTS AND FIGURES
Capital : Seoul
Location : Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Total Area : 99,720 sq km
Climate : Temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer then winter
Population : 48,860,500 (July 2012 –estimated); homogenous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Government Type : Republic
Official Languages : Korean, English (widely taught in junior and high school)
Religions : Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3%
Currency : South Korean Won (KRW)
Country Code : +82
GENERAL
The country name South Korea, also referred to as “The Republic of Korea”, is distinct from its northern neighbour the “Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea”. Both countries form the Korean peninsula, which extends south from northern China. There are over 2000 small island distributed around the main South Korean peninsula.

In the early part of Korea’s history, under a dynasty system, a large portion of the Korean peninsula extended into China. Korean culture, therefore, has extensive Confucian origins. During the 20th century, Japan occupied Korea for 35 years, leaving residual elements of Japanese culture. There has also been an infiltration of American ways among younger members of the population, owing to an American military presence in the country. For the most part though the country has one homogeneous culture, with deep-rooted Korean customs still ingrained in the majority of the population.
LOCAL CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE
SPECIAL BELIEFS
Visitors to Korea should be aware of the following special beliefs :
  • The number four is considered very unlucky, as it is associated with death. Some buildings do not label the fourth floor in lifts with a numeric ‘4’. Instead, an “F” may be substituted. There are no significant lucky numbers, although older Koreans believe that the number three is lucky.
  • Black and white are not considered cheerful or lucky colours, as they are used at funerals. At a Korean funeral, men wear black and women wear white. Most other colours are acceptable.
  • Because of the relatively large number of Christian followers in Korea, Christmas and Easter are important times of the year.
  • Courtesy, respect and honour are important aspects of daily life.
  • Junior people are expected to show humility and respect to their seniors.
  • The act of bowing is used when greeting, expressing gratitude and apologising, but is practised on a less formal basis than in Japan.
  • It is common to see females holding hands in public. This is a display of kinship or close friendship.
When interacting with Koreans, don’t :
  • Criticise anything Korean, either directly or by implication. Regional biases exist between citizens of different towns, and a foreigner might be tested with ‘the OR question’. A Korean may ask “Do you prefer Seoul or Daejon?” or “Do you prefer Japanese food or Korean food?” These questions are more than simple queries. They are intended to draw the unsuspectiong foreigner to respond with a positive ‘ch’emyon and a gibun-enhancing reply’.
  • Be surprised if a Korean asks how old you are – he is merely trying to establish relative levels of seniority to determine how much respect should be shown to you.
  • Assume that when a Korean verbally expresses a large number, the amount is correct. Koreans deal in multiple of 10 000 and when translating into English, can mistakenly exclude or add a zero to the number. To avoid ambiguity, it is best to ask them to write down the figure.
  • Laugh loudly – women should cover their mouths with their hands when laughing.
  • Cross the legs, particularly in front of a more senior or elderly person. This applies to men only. It is acceptable for women to cross their legs.
  • Practise the western habit of patting on the back or putting an arm around the shoulders of a Korean. This is considered extremely rude. Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex should be avoided.
  • Beckon or call out to a senior or elderly person. Rather approach them.
  • Smoke in the presence of a more senior or elderly person.
  • Interrupt a more senior or elderly person when they are talking, particularly during negotiations.
  • Initiate discussion about a Korean’s wife, or try to mention her by name.
  • Blow the nose loudly. If this has to be done in public, do it quietly. The Asian custom of sniffing is considered more polite.
  • Sneeze loudly. Sneezes should be muffled as much as possible.
  • Write or present literature with triangles on it. Sharp corners imply disharmony.
  • Write a person’s name in red, as this implies that the person has died or is scheduled to die.
  • Point with the forefinger; rather use the open palm of the hand.
  • Be intolerant of the smaller personal body space of Koreans. Korea is one of the most densely populated Asian countries. As over 70 % of the country is mountainous, the population is concentrated in the lower-lying urban areas.
  • Queuing is not always practised, and pushing and shoving may be done without apology or concern.
  • Promote Japan or anything Japanese in front of an elderly Korean. They still harbour a resentment of Japan, following its 35 years of oppressive occupation.