Korean lady in Hanbok or Korea dress and walk in an ancient town in seoul, Seoul city, South Korea.

Hallyu is on the rise and there’s no stopping it anytime soon. Wait, what is Hallyu? Hallyu simply refers to the ‘Korean Wave.’ Interestingly, the term Hallyu isn’t even a Korean word—it’s a Chinese word that was given by Chinese fans in the late 1900s when the Korean wave started invading their country. Since then, the transcendence of the South Korean culture has expanded, and today, it has gained a global reach.

Exploring Korean Culture

The fascination with Korean culture is at its peak, especially with the growing popularity of Korean popular music or K-pop, as it’s famously called. It’s not even the end of it, because as everybody knows, even the Koreans’ famous samgyeopsal and other foods have captured the palate of a lot of people.

It’s totally understandable if you’re starting to grow such fascination and inclination toward the Korean culture. If you plan on visiting their country real soon, you should be prepared, because their culture and traditions are so much different from what western countries are accustomed to.

Learning Their Language

You’re probably one of the hard-core fans of Korean series or K-dramas. If so, you surely have memorized several Korean words they commonly use or speak. However, if you plan on traveling to Korea one of these days, you might want to seriously learn Korean, so you can better communicate with the people there.

Even if you don’t have any plans of coming to South Korea, you can still use your knowledge of the Korean language in different ways. Perhaps the greatest advantage of that is how you can easily understand the K-dramas you binge-watch. You no longer have to switch your eyes to and from the actors themselves and the subtitles in the lower part of your TV. The experience is a lot better when you understand the language. And the emotions are more highlighted.

Japanese family eating

Eating Their Food

One of the best influences Hallyu has brought to the world is the introduction of their cuisine. South Korea is famous for its samgyeopsal or grilled pork belly. The way they eat it is also quite fascinating—the meat strip or pork belly is wrapped in a piece of lettuce along with their dipping sauces. Sometimes, the wrap also includes their famous kimchi, a traditional Korean dish made from fermented and salted vegetables such as radish and napa cabbage.

If you like watching K-dramas, you’ll know what these foods are and how the Koreans enjoy them. Other famous dishes from Korea also include:

  • Korean fried chicken: Usually eaten as an appetizer or a snack after a meal.
  • Hangover stew: A kind of spicy soup Koreans usually eat before or after drinking. The ingredients usually include beef broth, radish, bean sprouts, and cabbages.
  • Jjajangmyeon: A Korean noodle dish made from diced pork and vegetables, and topped with thick chunjang sauce.
  • Tteokbokki: These are rice cakes that are stir-fried with chili paste sauce. Tteokbokki is usually served with scallions and boiled eggs.
  • Gimbap: Also spelled or called kimbap, gimbap is made from cooked rice, meats, fish, and vegetables that are all wrapped in a sheet of dried seaweed.
  • Sundae: A Korean sausage made from pig intestines that are stuffed with meat, vegetables, and cellophane noodles.

Another popular Korean food item (or drink, actually) is their soju. It’s an alcoholic beverage you usually see on K-dramas whenever the actors feel like drinking or having a good time. Koreans also enjoy their meals with cooked rice and a lot of side dishes or ‘banchan’ as they call it. Some of their most famous side dishes are egg roll omelet, spicy radish salad, spicy cucumber salad, and japchae which is stir-fried glass noodles made with vegetables, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

The K-Drama Craze

Korean dramas are so popular that even western countries are obsessing over them. The K-drama craze also paved the way for different Korean idols and actors to enter the international scene. If you want to find out more about Korean culture, you should definitely not skip binge-watching the famous sensational dramas online. You’ll find several scenes that showcase some of the most basic Korean customs and traditions such as bowing to elders and more. It’s also a good way to observe how Koreans speak and act when around people.

If you’re into love stories, the best dramas to watch are Crash Landing on You, Descendants of the Sun, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, and My Love from the Stars. There are also K-dramas that feature an athletic twist such as:

  • Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
  • Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon
  • Oh My Venus

Most of these dramas are available on some of the popular video-streaming apps online.

Learning The Different Korean Customs And Traditions

Just like any other foreign country, South Korea also has distinct customs and traditions you need to observe and follow, especially if you will be coming to the country soon. It’s better to get acquainted with their culture so you can avoid offending them at any time.

Bowing your head, for example, is their most basic way of showing respect and politeness, particularly to elders. When entering a Korean home, you’re supposed to remove your shoes and wear house slippers instead. Other things to note when in Korea are:

  • Don’t use restrooms that are allotted for handicapped people.
  • When using public transportation, don’t sit on seats that are marked for pregnant women and older people.
  • Don’t throw your trash on the streets.
  • When dining with other Korean people, remember that older people need to be seated first on the table. If you’re a guest, say ‘jal meokkessumnida’ before eating as a sign of respect. This means ‘I will enjoy the meal.’

Keep in mind that you’re in a foreign country, and as such, you need to respect their cultures and traditions. Take advantage of your Korean stay to know more about their culture and how you can show your appreciation of it.

Conclusion

The Korean culture is indeed rich and fascinating. They have a lot to offer, and it would be an exciting and learning experience to travel to South Korea in the future. While waiting for an opportunity to visit the country, explore Korean culture in your own way by using this guide. When the time comes that you’re able to experience their country firsthand, you won’t have to worry about offending South Koreans or not fitting in somehow.