• 93% of those surveyed said that Cross Cultural Training
would have helped.
Table of Contents
In Order of Appearance
2. Why you need to know
about Korean culture.
3. What is Culture?
4. What to do With Your
Knowledge of Korea.
5. Hofstede's’ 5
6. Power Distance
7. Korea Vs. U.S.A (PDI)
9. Confucianism in Action
10. Using Harmony
14. Greetings Cont.
15. Dining Etiquette
16. Table Manners Cont.
17. Departing a Dinner
19. Taking Off Your Shoes
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
BEFORE YOU WORK IN KOREA
● Koreans think all westerners are Americans.
- They may assume foreigners do not know
● Show you have understanding of Korean
language and customs.
● It is an Advantage!
CULTURE CONSISTS OF
● A patterned way of thinking, feeling, and
● It is acquired and transmitted mainly by
●A culture’s core is made of peoples ideas and
What to do with your knowledge
of Korean culture
● Avoid culture clashes.
● Know how to work well with Koreans.
● Stand out as a good fit for the Korean
● Hofstede proposed the Five Dimensions of
Measurements of National Culture
DEFINITION: The extent to which the less
powerful members of institutions and
organizations accept that power is
Power Distance in
Korea VS. U.S.A.
● South Korea's PDI score= 60.
- Hofstede rates South Korea as 27th of 50 highest
• Believed boss should be ‘Benevolent Autocrat”
● U.S.A. PDI = 40
- Power more broadly distributed
● Core Values:
● Harmony is when everyone behaves properly.
● Members are responsible for maintaining a
comfortable state of mind and the community.
CONFUCIANISM IN ACTION
- Koreans seek consensus.
- Different opinions are not usually expressed
- Often will say NO in an indirect way.
● Best practice is to express difference of
opinion with higher up’s in private.
- Opinions written down and given in letter
● Find support for what to do when being told
● Steep pyramid of hierarchy.
● Respect for seniority.
-Both age and position.
● A Korean distinction.
- Simultaneous equality and hierarchal
● Seniors responsible for juniors.
● Related to the family hierarchy.
● Comes with responsibility.
● Bows are the traditional greeting.
- Lower status person bows to higher status
- Initiator says “manoseo pangapsumnida”
which means “Pleased to meet you”.
- To show respect, hold right forearm with
your left hand.
- Do NOT shake with a hard squeeze.
- Women usually only give a slight nod.
● NEVER wave towards a senior person.
-Wait to be seated. (Strict protocol)
- The seat facing the door is a place of
→ TIP: It is polite to protest slightly.
Table Manners Continued...
● The eldest is served first.
→ TIP: Wait for the most senior person to
● Do NOT pierce your food with chopsticks.
● Do NOT pick up food with your hands.
● Do finish everything on your plate.
● When finished eating, place chopsticks on
Departing a Dinner Party
● It is insulting to bid farewell indoors.
- Walk guests to their gate or car.
● Gifts are used to promote and maintain
- Choose carefully.
● Allow host to present gift first.
● Receive gifts with both hands.
● Do NOT open wrapped gifts in front of giver.
● Always take a gift to your host when invited.
- Ex: Fruit, flowers, alcohol, rice, candy,
● Use bright colored wrapping paper.
- No NOT use green white or black paper.
● Business attire is conservative.
- Men wear dark colored suits with white
Tip: Men do not wear jewelry other than
wedding ring and watch.
-Women wear subdued colors.
Take Time to Show Gratitude
● A thank you note goes a long way!
Practice Your Bow
● Both legs together, and arms straight at your
● The more junior bows more before the more
● Do not lock eyes.
Practice Your Korean
● Find occasions to use Korean phrases.
● Phrases to know
- “Annyong-haseyo” which means “Hello.”
- “An-Nyeong-hi-gye-se-yo” which means
- “Kam-sa-hab-ni-da” which means
Be Careful How You Wave
● Beckoning someone can be different than in
● Place youtube video here
● Never wave towards a more senior person!
Watch Out for Red Ink!
● Don’t write a person’s name in red ink!
Count Your Gifts Wisely
● The number four is unlucky!
Be Careful When Handling
● The exchange of cards is highly ritualized.
- Treat cards as you would treat the giver.
Steps for card exchange:
1. Receive cards with both hands.
2. Inspect cards carefully before placing into
3. Do not write on business cards in someone's
4. Present your card with both hands.
-TIP: Translate one side into Korean and
present that side.
● Official language Korean:
- Hangeul is the written form.
- Hangeul is easy to learn to read.
● They are taught English in high school.
● Seollal (Lunar New Year ) Feb. 18- 20:
- More important than January 1st.
- Most business are closed.
- Koreans take several days off work to visit
family / hometowns.
● Chuseok Sept. 26-28:
- Called the Korean Thanksgiving.
- Harvest celebration.
- People visit ancestral homes.
The Korean War
A Touchy Subject…
● Be mindful when talking about the war.
● South Koreans do NOT see America as their
● Avoid assumptions.
● Learning about culture has helped prepare you
for South Korea.
● More resources at: