Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Etiquette in Korea is extremely important. Being a foreigner gives a level of lenience when it comes to manners, but there are some things you need to know before you arrive.
Remember to bow to everyone. Workers at the restaurant as you arrive and leave, shop assistants, if you bump into someone on the street. Bowing is the handshake and hug of Korea. Handshakes and hugs are ‘skin-ship’ which is for close friends and partners only!
Age has a big hierarchy attached, always speak formally to someone older than you (even a few months older). If you’re not sure, formal is the way to go! When you’re drinking, the youngest in the group pours the drinks for everyone else. But, you never pour for yourself, you wait to have your drink poured.
When you’re eating, never stick your chopsticks into the rice bowl and leave them there (this resembles the incense used at funerals so isn’t a good sign!)
Stand on the right side, and walk down the left side of the escalators, while this may seem trivial, there’s always someone in a rush and you’ll get some dirty looks if you’re on the wrong side.
‘Hello’ - ‘annyeong-hasae-yo’ (안녕하새요)
‘Thank you’ - ‘kamsa-hab-nida’ (감사합니다)
‘Sorry’ - ‘chae-so-hab-nida’ (죄송합니다)
There are lots more things you can learn about so I’d recommend some of these websites :)
The Spruce Eats - Table Manners
90 Day Korean - 11 things to not do
Theculturetrip - Etiquette Tips