Recent Blog Posts
This week, South Korea experienced two strong earthquakes centered near Gyeongju city, including a magnitude-5.8 quake that was the largest ever recorded in the ROK. Before these events, due to seismic activity earlier this year in Japan, as well as aftershocks felt in South Korea, some were beginning to ask if a whether a major seismic event could also hit the ROK & if buildings, bridges & other infrastructure could survive. To answer these questions, Korea FM host Chance Dorland spoke with Korea Institute of Geoscience & Mineral Resources (KIGAM) senior researcher Dr. Taesung Kim & Tae-Hyung Lee, a Konkuk University department of civil engineering professor & member of the Korean Earthquake Engineering Society.
This episode is brought to you by Podcast Assist & its $30 per hour flat rate podcasting voice overs, editing, mastering, transcriptions & even hosting (select a topic, they’ll create & host the podcast). Visit Facebook.com/PodcastAssist for more information.
If audio player does not load, listen to this episode by clicking here.
Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.
Rate & Review this podcast at bit.ly/KFMReview
Subscribe to Korea FM Talk Radio & News Podcasts via:
Listen to Korea FM Talk Radio & News Podcasts online via:
Overcast – http://bit.ly/KFMovercast
Stitcher – http://bit.ly/KFMstitcher
audioBoom – http://bit.ly/KFMaudioBoom
Player FM – http://bit.ly/KFMplayerfm
Tunein – http://bit.ly/KFMtunein
Acast – http://bit.ly/KFMacast
RSS – http://bit.ly/KFMrss
iTunes – http://apple.co/1O91B39
The post South Korea’s Earthquake Risk & Possible Damage Scenarios appeared first on Korea FM.
The five tier pagoda, which is also National Treasure #39, at Nawonsa Temple in northern Gyeongju.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Located in the northern part of Gyeongju, and on the former site of a much older temple, is Nawonsa Temple. This newer temple points to a much older and glorious past in Korean history.
Along a few country roads and past the scenic Hyeongsan River is the well hidden Nawonsa Temple. When first approaching the temple, you’ll pass through the temple parking lot, which appears to be situated out in front of the old temple site. Passing through this clearing, you’ll notice an elevated pagoda to the rear. This nearly ten metre tall white pagoda, which dates back to the 8th century, is National Treasure #39. In the past, this pagoda appeared to the rear of the main temple building during the Unified Silla Period. Now, with the original temple no longer in existence, the historic pagoda stands alone. The body of the pagoda consists of one solid stone and stands five tiers in height. The most remarkable thing about the pagoda is that it’s retained its pure white colour for over a thousand years.
In a bend in the road to the left of the elevated pagoda, and at the base of a small mountain, is Nawonsa Temple. Straight ahead, and past a collection of temple facilities to your left, is the diminutive concrete main hall. The exterior of the main hall is unpainted, but there are a pair of stone lanterns out in front of the elevated main hall. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a collection of white statues on the main altar. Sitting in the centre of the seven statues is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And he’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). On the far left wall is the temple’s guardian mural as well as a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
The only other hall to be enjoyed at Nawonsa Temple is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left rear of the main hall. Up a set of innumerable stairs, you’ll finally arrive at this little hall. Housed inside the unadorned exterior are three paintings. Resting on the main altar is a simple Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. To the left of Chilseong rests a mural of Yongwang (The Dragon King) and to the right is a mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you need to take Bus #232. After 21 stops, or 30 minutes, get off at the Nawonsa Temple entrance stop (나원사 입구).
OVERALL RATING: 5/10. By far, the main highlight to Nawonsa Temple is the ancient five tier pagoda that also acts as National Treasure #39. The interior to the Daeung-jeon main hall is rather inviting, as well.
The five tier pagoda as you first approach it.
The picture does no justice to just how massive this pagoda truly is.
The bend in the road to the left where the newer Nawonsa Temple is located.
The Daeung-jeon main hall at Nawonsa Temple.
Some little trinkets that people have left behind out in front of the main hall.
A paper Dragon Ship of Wisdom that hangs out in front of the main hall entrance.
A look around the interior of the Daeung-jeon Hall at the main altar.
To the rear of the main hall.
Where this long flight of stairs rests on your way up to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
A look at the underwhelming Samseong-gak.
The Chilseong mural that rests on the main altar.
With a mural dedicated to Yongwang to the left.
You have probably already heard the words oppa (오빠), hyung (형), noona (누나), and unnie (언니) on several occasions. Perhaps you are residing in Korea or watch a lot of Korean dramas and other shows. But do you know what they actually mean, why they are used, and when to use them? At first glance they might look like they’re just silly little words that get thrown around too much. However, it’s actually of great importance to be knowledgeable about them.
In Korea, it’s important to know the age of the person you are dealing with, and refer to them accordingly. You might have come to Korea from a Western country where ‘age is just a number’, but that’s quite the opposite in South Korea. Not only that, but Koreans have their own age-calculating system where your age is calculated based on your birth year. When January 1st hits, everyone becomes one year older, so to speak. Which month you were born on doesn’t matter in that sense.
However, an additional piece of information regarding this that doesn’t get talked about as much is that, depending on the Korean, they might actually calculate their age based on the Lunar calendar instead of the Western New Year. In this case, while your age is still calculated by the year you were born in, people born in, say January of 1993, are still considered the same age as those born in 1992 simply because Lunar New Year hasn’t passed yet by the time they were born.
Meaning of the words
Now, let’s get to the point. If you are a woman and the man is older than you (related to you or not), you should call him oppa (오빠). In the case you are a woman and another woman is older than you, then the word to call them by is unnie (언니). On the other hand, if you are a man in the company of an older man or simply having a conversation with them, you should refer to them as hyung (형), and in the case of your conversation partner being an older woman, then call her noona (누나).
oppa (오빠) = females speaking to older males
hyung (형) = males speaking to older males
noona (누나) = males speaking to older females
unnie (언니) = females speaking to older females
Oppa (오빠) and hyung (형) mean ‘older brother’, noona (누나) and unnie (언니) mean ‘older sister’. However, the meaning of these terms expands much further than just your blood related siblings.
Before using these terms, take into consideration these three things:
- If there are decades worth of age difference between you two, it’s less likely for these terms to be used.
- Even if you’re not talking to directly the people you call oppa, hyung, noona, and unnie, whenever you refer to them in a conversation with someone else, you should attach one of these terms after the name of the person you are talking about.
- You might want to refrain from using this terms when meeting them for the first time. On the other hand, if you are in a Korean restaurant, even if the (usually older female) waitresses are strangers to you, it’s not weird for men to call them by noona (누나) and women by unnie (언니), regardless of age difference.
Some other instances you might want to consider
What about the cases where person is the same age as you? Then you two can comfortably call each other friends which in Korea is the word chingu (친구). In this case it’s likely you’ll just refer to them by name (if you are close).
What if you are the one who is older? Then the other person is your dongsaeng (동생)! This term means both little sister and little brother, though if you want to put more emphasis on the gender of the dongsaeng you are talking about, you can add yeo (여) for girls and nam (남) for boys. However, usually these gender markers are used only when talking about your actual blood-related siblings.
Does age ever not matter?
There are also instances and Korean people who might be less fussy about using such terms, especially when dealing with foreigners. Some men might find it odd for you to call them oppa (오빠), some women will chuckle whenever you refer to them as unnie (언니). While some men a year or two younger than the woman are dead set on calling them noona (누나) at every turn possible, others will refer to the woman by her name instead. In general, the less age difference there is and the closer you two are, the less important it will be, and a lot of senior citizens no longer care at all.
In school and work life environment, more so than your age, other things matter. At work, your title and status take precedence over everything else. In school, it’s when you started school that determines how you should be referred to as. These also apply among colleagues of the same status level at work.
At university, no matter if the person is actually older than you or not, if they started earlier than you did, then you should call them seonbae (선배) aka ‘senior’ or ‘older alumnus’. Those who started later than you can be referred to as hubae (후배) aka ‘junior’.
Outside of the terms represented here, there are so many other terms out there for Koreans to use when referring to one another, based on one’s status, gender, who they are to you, and so on. To explain all these terms, several posts are needed.
Hopefully this information can help you with your acquaintances and friends. The more you integrate into Korean culture, the more of these terms you’ll learn, and the more you’ll enjoy your time with Koreans!
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn
해! 그냥 해!
어제 넌 내일 할 거라고 했어.
그러니까, 그냥 해!
불가능한 건 아무것도 없어!
너의 꿈을 실현시켜!
아니! 뭘 망설이고 있는 거야?
넌 할 수 있어!
FOLLOW ME HERE:
SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL:
I had big plans for today, as it was a rare day when I had nothing else on and all loose ends were tied up, but I woke up feeling quite sickly and then the weather started to bug. Instead I’ve spent some time working inside and puzzling out some new recipes.
I’ve been meaning to post this pizza forever but have failed at blogging for the most part for the past few months. I’ve made it several times since I first came up with it, and I think it’s probably one of B’s favorite things to eat now. He forgets every time that he’s had it before and acts as though I’ve come up with some kind of genius pizza formula every time I make it. I think he thinks of pizza as being something quite different — he keeps asking me what this is called.
I’ve already written a bit about garlic scapes here, and this is another great way to put them to use. The pesto also works great as a pasta sauce.
I kind of just made it up on the fly with what I had in my fridge, to be honest. Hip-to-it Koreans seem to have recently cracked on to pesto, and now it’s everywhere and made from anything that happens to be green. A big favorite that’s popping up on menus all over Seoul is ggaenip pesto — pesto made with perilla leaves. I actually had a perilla leave pesto pizza at a restaurant last month that I’ve also been meaning to write about. Anyway, the anything-that’s-green pesto fad had me thinking that garlic scapes might make a nice version.
The first round I made, pictured above, was very simple — garlic scapes, almonds, olive oil, salt and pepper. It was good, but the recipe I’m including includes a handful of parmesan cheese, which makes it a million times better (and helps to cut the oil when it comes to spreading it on a pizza). As always with pesto, you can use basically any nut, including pine nuts, which are my personal favorite to use when making basil pesto. Garlic scapes have quite an overpowering, spicy flavor, though, and I thought the almonds might help ground them a little more.
The dough is the same pizza dough I always use lately, which is from the Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza and Calzone cookbook. Very reliable with a soft, chewy crust and nary a soggy undercarriage.
A simple ricotta takes the bite factor down a bit on the pesto and adds texture, while a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano give the pizza a little extra flavor. Asparagus, onions and eggs round out the toppings.
The thing I really like about this pesto is that it goes a bit crispy toward the edges of the pizza and picks up a lovely roasted flavor. All things considered, it doesn’t take that much time to bang out and tastes much better and is much healthier (not to mention cheaper) than a delivery pizza. If you’ve not got enough time to wait for dough to rise after getting home from work, that’s not a problem either, as batches of dough can be made ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated. In fact I’ve found that letting pizza dough sit in the fridge overnight allows it to develop a much nicer flavor.
The pesto can also be made in batches and frozen or kept in a jar in the fridge. If those two things are done ahead of time, this is actually a pretty quick and easy meal with very few dishes to do afterward. That’s why I’ve made it so often in the past few months, honestly, and I’ll probably make a big batch of this pesto to freeze before summer ends and garlic scapes become scarce.
As for the ricotta, if you’ve got milk and lemon juice, you can whip up a batch of fauxcotta in about 20 minutes.
I will add one small note to say that I’ve only included one egg per small pizza in the recipe below. As you can see from the picture above, the yolk has cooked through on one of the eggs, which resulted from having to cook the pizza a bit longer to get the whites done through. The runny yolk is one of the best parts of this pizza, so I recommend cutting the egg down to one and pulling the pizza out a couple of minutes earlier.
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup rye flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup garlic scapes, chopped
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 10 stalks asparagus
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1/3 cup parmesan, grated or shaved
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 2 eggs
- Mix together the rye flour, yeast and 1/4 cup of warm water in a large bowl for the sponge. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set it aside to rise for about 30 minutes.
- When the sponge is bubbly and fragrant, add the 1/2 cup warm water and stir through with a whisk until it is well combined. Add the milk, olive oil, salt and flour and mix with your hands until the dough begins to form. Use a bench knife or scraper to scrape the dough off of your hands if necessary and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands and knead the dough for about ten minutes, adding as little flour as possible, until it is firm and elastic.
- Form the dough into a ball and coat it lightly with olive oil. Place it in a large, clean bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Put it in a warm place to rise for an hour and a half to two hours.
- Put the garlic scapes, olive oil, almonds and parmesan into a food processor and process until smooth, about 5 minutes depending on your processor's capabilities. When the pesto is smooth, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn your oven on to as high as it will go. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to heat up and disregard the directions below involving the parchment paper. Instead, work directly on a well floured pizza peel or flat baking sheet that you can use to transfer the pizza to the stone.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper (or divide the dough and place it on two separate pieces of parchment paper, if making two small pizzas). Use your fingers to press it flat into the shape you want your pizza to be. Coat the dough with a generous amount of the garlic scapes pesto and top with the cheeses, asparagus and onion.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven rack or pizza stone and carefully crack the eggs over the surface (two, if making one large pizza, and one per small pizza). Bake until the crust is light golden brown and firm and the egg whites are set.
Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.
The following is a local re-up of an essay I wrote for The National Interest recently. That essay was edited. The original is below, and I think it is better.
The text in the picture is Chinese and reads: “Donald J. Trump super fan nation, Full and unconditional support for Donald J. Trump to be elected U.S. president.”
That Trump has sympathizers out here makes sense – even though he bashes the region all the time – because he obviously got a lot of his political ideas from East Asia: Mercantilism, race nationalism, hostility to immigration, huge distrust of Islam, oligopolistic mega-corporations dominated by interlocking family and crony networks, soft authoritarianism, manipulating the state to benefit politically-connected insiders, golf – that’s Trumpism. But it’s also the de facto governing ideology of contemporary Sinic-Confucian East Asia.
I remained convinced that Trump learned about East Asia primarily through the ‘declinist’ school of the 1980s. The popularized version of that argument was Michael Crichton’s 1992 novel Rising Sun. Given that this is Trump we are talking about though, he probably just watched the movie instead. This is why he talks about Japan so much.
What just amazes me is that Trump simultaneously has a 35-year history attacking the East Asian (mostly Japanese) nationalist-developmentalist model while pretty much proposing to bring it to the United States now if he gets elected. Trump is basically acting like what he thinks Japanese businessmen acted like in 1985 – just with an extra thick layer of idiocy and know-nothingness on top . Why does no one else see this? So if you are Japanese, maybe you can be proud in a weird way (lol): Trump thinks he’s you, just turning the tables.
The full essay follows the jump.
One of the (many) ironies of Donald Trump’s emergence is the general dislike for him in East Asia, especially among American allies, who clearly want Hillary Clinton to win the presidency. For ‘Trumpism’ actually channels pretty well how much of East Asia is governed in practice. To be sure, East Asian elites are not much like Trump himself – thankfully. They are business-like (to the point of leaden), not prone to outbursts, far more serious and better versed, and so on. But Trumpism will likely outlive its bizarre tribune this year, and once shorn of the Orange One’s shenanigans, East Asian elites should find its message quite familiar. Trumpism – nationalism tinged with racism, trade mercantilism, hostility to immigration and Islam, border control, disdain for the media and transparency, family-based business oligarchy, semi-authoritarian political style, and so on – is more or less the unstated ruling consensus in places like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and China. Consider a few issues:
Immigration & Ethnicity
Japan and South Korea have some of the lowest immigration rates in the developed world. This is by design; it is difficult to obtain long-term visas for anyone who is not an English teacher. The non-native populations of South Korea and Japan are in the low single-digits. And those that do live there are almost always an out-group rarely occupying positions of authority in the private or public sector. China, technically with over fifty distinct ethnicities, has ‘Han-washed’ these cultures and standardized languages and customs throughout their borders. It has ‘encouraged’ Han internal immigration to non-Han areas, most famously Tibet, and enforces standardized Mandarin in public schools to compel integration.
Trump has called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the country, and has questioned accepting Syrian refugees. Like Trump’s base, East Asia is intensely critical of Islam and has accepted virtually no refugees the Middle East. The select few that do make it face discrimination and diminished expectations, and even in democracies like Japan and Korea, they are treated poorly. Muslims in China are repressed and suspect; in Singapore they are informally locked-out of power.
Trade & Mercantilism
In addition to congruent views on immigration, Japan, Korea, and China share similar Trumpian views on trade: there is a finite amount of pie on the table and a bigger slice for others means a smaller slice for us. Trump’s evaluation of agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as “bad deals” that allow the other to “take advantage of us” mirrors mercantilist attitudes in East Asian agricultural and manufacturing industries. Even democracies like Japan and Korea continue to throw up NTBs to protect their national champions: take for example the half trillion in government subsidies dished out to Korea’s biggest conglomerates last year – Samsung, LG, and Hyundai to name a few.
China, of course, is worse. The difficulty foreign firms have there – with corrupt officials, politicized investigations or tax treatments, corporate espionage, and so on – are well-known. Some of the world’s largest tech companies – arguably America’s foremost export – have limited footprints in the country, ceding market share to Chinese domestic alternatives. When deals are completed for foreign company expansion, there are often the result of joint ventures between Chinese firms and private international entities. These arrangements frequently insist on tech transfers and other concessionary privileges in exchange for market access. This sounds much like what Trump wants to do.
China also uses trade as a geopolitical weapon as Trump proposes. When the Philippines tangled with China over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, China immediately stopped accepting bananas, mangos, and other tropical fruits that represent a significant portion of Filipino exports. Only once Manila backed down and withdrew their complaint did trade flows resume.
Semi-Authoritarianism and Dislike for Free Media
Trump’s authoritarian flirtation is also reflective of East Asia’s political style, where executives are very powerful, legislatures are weak, media are crippled by libel laws and ties to state actors or corporations, rule of law is often bent to accommodate wealthy businessmen and nationalist pressure, and so on. Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan all have outsized executives only weakly constrained by legislatures. I have had students refer to the South Korean presidency as an elected monarch. In these system, decision-making comes from the top, and there is little the opposition can do in key areas such as foreign policy or criminal justice.
Civil liberties in China, South Korea, and Japan are relatively weak. Mr. Trump, in his calls to deport 11 million people without due process and his removal of journalists from events are eerily similar to South Korea revoking the passport of a Japanese reporter and trying him for defamation. Large parts of the internet are entirely blocked in China. Japan has dropped to 72 out 180 nations on the World Press Freedom Index, behind such countries as Madagascar, Georgia, and Niger.
Trump is arguably a reaction to multiculturalization of America. He speaks to those looking for a traditional nationalism of race and soil. This has always sat uncomfortably with America’s formal constitutional tradition of credal nationalism, but in East Asia this paradox scarcely exists. To be sure, biracial Japanese, Koreans, and so on exist, but discrimination against this small minority is genuine problem. Instead, race and language are broadly still the populist determinants of nationality, and nationalism, often with racial and grievance overtones westerners find reminiscent of the 19th century Europe, is the overwhelming regional ideology. To be sure, much of this is Hegelian myth-making – the building of nationalist historiography for contemporary state purposes. But the point is that East Asia is very much of the modernist-nationalist mind-set regarding the state and its borders, much as Trump voters are. When Trump says, ‘if you want to have a country, you have to have borders,’ East Asia embodies that today probably more than any other part of the world.
Since the 1980s, Trump has followed – as much as he as able to, I suppose – Asia; he was an original Japan-basher back in the day. What an irony that, for as much as he dislikes the region, he is now importing its mercantilist-nationalist trade model to the US.
Robert E. Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University. More of his work may be found at his website: https://asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/.
September is the month signaling the start of Autumn, and with Korean Thanksgiving Chuseok just around the corner, Korean beauty brands are starting their seasonal promotions and sales, with items selling for up to 50% off! If there are new products that you’ve been wanting to try or you want to stock up on your favorites, now’s the time!
Check out our ultimate list of offline store-only deals for September below. These top Korean beauty brand stores are easy to find in major shopping districts in Seoul, such as Myeongdong, Hongdae, Ewha Womans University or underground shopping malls, and they are located near each other, making your shopping very convenient.
1. Etude House
Get ready to snatch up these products from the new Etude House Pink Skull collection, available in stores now until the 29th of September.As the name suggests, everything from the mascaras, glosses to nail polishes are imprinted with an adorable pink skull design.
The more you buy, the more discounts you receive: 10% off for purchasing 1 item, 20% for 2, and 30% for 3 (excludes Pink Skull nail polish). However, there is no discount for a purchase of 4 items or more. Grab these limited edition products while you still can!
How can you resist these colorful and cute designs by painter, illustrator and street artist Chris Uphues! Just look at those adorable googly eyes.These pouches and card wallets are available in blue, black and beige and each features a unique design. Purchases over 30,000 KRW get you the wallet, while purchases over 50,000 KRW get you both. This offer is available while stocks last, so head to your nearest store to get yours now!
Show your friends and family some love with these exclusive Chuseok gift sets, available for 20~30% off until the 18th of September.
There’s a large range to choose from such as body spray and shower gel, perfume and skincare, all packaged in sleek looking boxes. You can also receive a full size of the Layer Blurring Primer until the 18th of September by purchasing the new Original Tension Pact.
Choose from 4 types of primers according to your skin’s needs-pore cover, tone control, long lasting and shimmer. A mini size of the pact is also given as a freebie if you purchase anything from the 2016 F/W Venetian Look collection.
4. Tony Moly
Tony Moly has jumped on the skin and body care sale bandwagon for Chuseok with the Lentil Bean and Prestige Jeju Snail skincare lines available for 20~50% off until Sept 15.And Pokemon fans, get ready for this. The Pokemon x Tony Moly collection is the embodiment of everything cute, and you’ll definitely want to catch em’ all! They’re currently having a 2 for 1 deal on the hand creams and face washes which feature 8 characters, each with a unique scent.
The collection is out until the 30th of September, so grab your favorite characters before they sell out! Finally, you’ve heard of facial and eye masks, but your feet need love too, so grab a Shiny Foot Peeling Mask to nourish and care for them with this 2 for 1 deal until the 30th of September!
From milk to honey to lemon, Skinfood’s products always look and sound absolutely delicious. They’ve also come out with Chuseok gift sets for 30% off until the 18th of September. Don’t be fooled as the items pictured below aren’t the only ones on sale. There are 22 sets to choose from, so take your pick.Check out our 101 guide to must-have Korean cosmetics as well as our post on Mid range beauty brands to inspire your next shopping spree in Korea. You’ll also want to bookmark this post on regular sales periods of road shop cosmetic stores so that you don’t miss out on grabbing your favorite products.
Finally, don’t forget to stop by Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, for the latest tips and trendiest things to do in South Korea!
As a person who might be interested in working for a company in South Korea, it’s important to know the local customs for doing business and experiencing company life. Just like any other country, South Korea has their own particular working and business culture. Thus everyone planning to work or do business in Korea should be aware of the Korean business etiquette before their first meeting.
Let’s cover what you need to know!
Meeting for the first time
In Korea it’s common to be introduced to a new business person by a third party as opposed to introducing yourself. These days it’s become more normal in Korea to shake hands when you meet someone for the first time. However, that hasn’t entirely taken the place of bowing, which might still take place before the handshake.
You should also not go into a first meeting without having your business card ready to be given to the person you are meeting. When receiving a business card from someone else, you should read it carefully before placing it on the table to show the utmost respect. When presenting and receiving business cards, you should also try to use both of your hands.
Do make the appointment for the business meeting ahead of time, perhaps even a few weeks beforehand. Schedule it somewhere in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, without cutting into anyone’s lunch time.
Be aware of the reality that if these business meetings get cancelled, it often happens with little or no advance notice. If it happens once, it’s probably of no malicious intent but because something unavoidable simply popped up. However, if the same person repeatedly cancels on you, it might be a sign. It could indicate that they’re not that interested in doing business with you or doing business with you must be postponed for some other reasons.
If you’d like to reduce the possibilities of a misunderstanding during a meeting, sending out written materials prior to the meeting is a useful trick. When showing up to the meeting, be punctual and bring a gift with you. Punctuality is a sign of respect. Gift-giving helps in building relationships, thus easing your way to get the result you want out of the meetings.
Koreans prefer contracts to be flexible with room for adjustments and view the interpersonal relationships of the companies as more important than the contract itself. The contract is seen more as simply an outline of the working relationship more so than a binding agreement. Be aware of this and communicate about it clearly with whomever you’ll be signing those contracts with.
Addressing your business partners
While the amount of Koreans using Western names when doing business with you is rapidly growing, they will likely be delighted if you know their Korean name as well. Try to be fully knowledgeable of their title and department, and address them with their title and family name, if applicable.
Building business relationships
Keep nurturing a relationship with your Korean business partner or client after contact has already been made. Some ways to do this is by giving gifts to them on their big national holidays (Korean Thanksgiving and Lunar New Year) or by contacting them and visiting them on your business trips to Korea (even when your business is unrelated to theirs).
It’s very important to show them that you are interested in a long-term relationship and commitment with them instead of just wanting to make profit off of them. Don’t be afraid to bond through personal conversations, though remember not get too personal with them.
Other Korean business etiquette to note
Some other things that you might want to know about Korean people and their business culture is that it’s of high value to be as modest and humble as you can. You might not want to completely undersell your company, but it’s also best to keep your boasting about your company and its achievements to the minimum.
Also, although Koreans in general might want to avoid making eye-contact with someone as a sign of respect, in the business world it’s important to keep eye-contact with whom you’re doing business with to show your sincerity and trustworthiness. When expressing your opinions or possible criticism, try to be as delicate as possible instead of being too direct. Saving face is a big thing in Korea, and being opposed by someone in public can be deemed as greatly embarrassing.
If you’re from the Western world, you might be accustomed to fast decision-making. However, it’s a little bit different in a country like Korea where the sense of hierarchy and collectivity is stronger.
Try to stay patient, as hard as it may be, and don’t expect any conclusions to be made in the first meeting. Maybe even learn a few words of Korean, or at least keep your English as clear and simple as possible for your business partners to understand, as not every Korean business person you’ll meet is confident in their English skills.
There’s a high chance that at least one of your business meetings will take place in a restaurant or a bar. Eating and drinking (especially drinking) are a big part of Korean culture, so participating in drinking with your potential business partner is a great way to help form that interpersonal working relationship with them.
However, if for some reason you can’t drink – such as religious reasons – be honest with them about it. If you’re just not a fan of alcohol, be honest about that, too.
Korean business etiquette wrap-up
The two keywords to end your “lesson” on Korean business etiquette with are ‘Confucian values’ and ‘Kibun’ (기분). ‘Confucian values’ are still very much integrated in Korean culture. This means that respecting authority, collectivity, harmony, working hard, and staying modest are all greatly valued virtues.
‘Kibun’ is another expression for ‘face’, something that’s important to maintain in Korea. Koreans often seek harmonious relationships in both work life and personal life. This might take a while for a straightforward Westerner to grasp as you might often not get a direct ‘no’ as an answer to a question or a request, though it’s subtly implied.
Now that you’re more knowledgeable about Korean business etiquette, you can walk into that meeting with confidence!
Wondering what are some fun activities that you could do while in Seoul? Do you have an interest in all sorts of things that museums, however traditional or modern, light or serious, have to offer? Then you’ll definitely want to take a look at this list of Seoul museums!
Seoul Museum #1: National Museum of Korea
Opened in 1945, it’s one of the most visited museums in the world. There are over 10,000 art pieces and relics displayed at any given moment, with different galleries focusing on different art.
On the first floor you can find the archeological and historical gallery with pieces of art dating all the way back to the beginning times of Korea. On the second floor they have on display calligraphy and paintings, plus works from individual collectors. On the third floor there are stunning Buddhist sculptures, and other art representing Asia and its culture.
Where: Ichon Station on Line 4 (Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Seobbingo-ro 137 //서울특별시 용산구 서빙고로 137)
Seoul Museum #2: War Memorial of Korea
There are two main exhibitions in this museum, one inside and the other one outside. Indoors, you can find exhibitions related to all the wars Korea has had.
Outdoors, on showcase are tanks, vehicles, submarines, aircraft and artillery that Korea used during World War 2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. You can even visit inside them!
Where: Samgakji Station on Line 4 (Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-ro 29 // 서울특별시 용산구 이태원로 29)
Seoul Museum #3: Trick Eye Museum
If you’re simply looking for a fun museum to visit, this should be on top of your list! The Trick Eye Museum contains art pieces are designed so that you can make yourself a part of them, and perhaps even snap a photo in the process. There are simple guides to give you instructions on how to do that.
The pictures are actually 2D, but made using optical illusion techniques so they look 3D. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with your friends!
Where: Hongik University Station on Line 2 (Seoul, Mapo-gu, Hongik-ro 3-gil 20 // 서울특별시 마포구 홍익로3길 20)
Seoul Museum #4: Seoul Museum of History
This museum is especially recommended for those interested in history. Visit this museum and watch how Seoul grew from its prehistoric period to the city that it now is. Special exhibitions can also be found here.
Where: Seodaemun Station or Gwanghwamun Station on Line 5 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Saemunan-ro 55 // 서울특별시 종로구 새문안로 55)
Seoul Museum #5: Leeum Samsung Museum of Art
Inside this museum are two different museums. In museum 1, there are several types of traditional Korean art on display, from paintings to ceramics. Museum 2, on the other hand, focuses on modern and contemporary art. The art is from both Korean artists and foreign collaborators as well. In addition to the regular exhibitions, there are also special ‘featured’ exhibitions on display, changing every three months.
Where: Hangangjin Station on Line 6 (Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-55-gil 60-16 // 서울특별시 용산구 이태원55길 60-16)
Seoul Museum #6: National Folk Museum of Korea
There’s no better way to actually learn about Korea’s history than by visiting this museum, which you can easily access while exploring Gyeongbok Palace. There are three main exhibition halls in this museum.
The first one, called ‘History of Korean People’, is focused on displaying all sorts of everyday life materials in Korea dating all the way from prehistoric times to 1910.
The second exhibition, named ‘The Korean Way of Life’, will show you how the life of a Korean villager in the ancient times was like. The third exhibition, ‘Life Cycle of the Koreans’, centers on Confucianism and how this ideology has affected the life of Koreans in Korea.
Where: Gyeongbokgung Station on Line 3 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Samcheong-ro 37 // 서울특별시 종로구 삼청로 37)
Seoul Museum #7: Seodaemun Prison History Museum
This is perhaps the most heart-wrenching museum you’ll find on this list. The Seodaemun Prison History Museum not only exhibits the prison, but also tells of the history when Japanese soldiers tortured and executed the followers of the Korean Independence Movement.
There are different halls and displays on show, with ‘A Place of Reverence’ on the first floor being the most grueling one of them all. It’s a must visit museum for when you’re in Seoul, even if it’s not a fun activity per se.
Where: Dongnimmun Station on Line 3 (Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Tongil-ro 251 // 서울특별시 서대문구 통일로 251)
Seoul Museum #8: National Museum of Korean Contemporary History
Yet another museum on the history of Korea, this one is focused on showing Korea’s history specifically from the late nineteenth century until the present, with around 16,000 pieces in their collection. There are four exhibition halls that you can explore, each focusing on a different time period.
Where: Gwanghwamun Station on Line 5 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Sejong-daero 198 // 서울특별시 종로구 세종대로 198)
Seoul Museum #9: The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Unlike a lot of the other museums on this list, this museum focuses on displaying contemporary art on a global level rather than focusing on Korea or Korean artists. There are several different exhibitions on display at all times.
Where: Gyeongbokgung Station or Anguk Station on Line 3 (Seoul, Jongno-gu, Samcheong-ro 30 // 서울특별시 종로구 삼청로 30)
Seoul Museum #10: Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or DDP for short, hosts five different museums (plus numerous art galleries and several other things) on its grounds. The museums are centered on design and other contemporary and modern art. Their exhibitions change every so often, with artists from all over the world having their works on display.
Where: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station on Line 2, 4 and 5 (Seoul, Jung-gu, Eulji-ro 281 // 서울특별시 중구 을지로 281)
Which of these Seoul museums have you been to? Let us know your favorite in the comments below!