5 Must-Know Dos and Donts in a Korean Household

This article provides essential tips on cultural etiquette to observe in a Korean household, ensuring that visitors can navigate social interactions with grace and respect.

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Generate an illustration reflecting important customs in a Korean household, without including any text or human figures. Include a well-organized and clean dining table set with traditional Korean crockery, a pair of indoor slippers placed neatly by a door threshold, a 'ondol' heated floor with a warm, inviting ambiance, a low wooden table with a tea set on it, and a meticulously maintained indoor garden with thriving plants. Try to subtly imply the concept of '5 Must-know Dos and Don'ts,' without explicitly numbering or listing them.


Understanding the nuances of Korean culture is essential for anyone planning to visit, live, or do business in South Korea. Especially when you are invited to a Korean home, respecting their domestic customs is not just polite, but crucial in forging good relationships. In this article, we will explore five fundamental dos and donts in a Korean household that will help you navigate these cultural waters with ease. We will provide practical examples and suggestions for items that might come in handy to ensure that your interaction with Korean culture is both respectful and engaging.

1. The Importance of Shoes

Do: Remove your shoes before entering a Korean home. This practice keeps the indoors clean and it is a sign of respect for the hosts home. To facilitate this, consider purchasing a pair of indoor slippers that are easily removable, allowing for a seamless transition.

Dont: Walk inside with your outdoor shoes on. This is considered unclean and disrespectful, and can offend your host greatly.

2. Gracious Guest Etiquette

Do: Bring a gift when visiting a Korean home. Items like fruit, quality teas, or premium skincare products are thoughtful gifts that show appreciation for your host. Make sure to present the gift with both hands, which is seen as a gesture of respect.

Dont: Give anything too extravagant or personal, which can make your host uncomfortable. Avoid gifts like green headbands or towels, which have negative connotations in Korean culture.

3. Dining Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Follow the lead of the eldest or the host at the dining table. Wait until they lift their spoon or chopsticks before you start eating. When drinking alcohol, turn away slightly from the eldest as a sign of respect when taking a sip.

Dont: Begin eating or drinking before the eldest or host does. Also, avoid sticking chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, as it resembles a ritual for the dead.

4. Communicating Respect

Do: Use proper titles and honorifics when addressing your hosts and their family members. Understanding basic Korean expressions and phrases can go a long way in showing respect. A simple phrasebook or app can be quite useful for this purpose.

Dont: Refer to someone by their first name unless you are close friends and have been invited to do so. And, do not assume that physical contact, like hugging or back-slapping, is as common as it may be in your own culture.

5. Gift and Gratitude Presentation

Do: Accept and give items, like gifts or business cards, with both hands as a display of respect. If your hands are full, you can touch your right forearm with your left hand to signify humility and politeness.

Dont: Use just one hand or be dismissive when receiving or giving something, as it can be seen as rude and disrespectful.


Respecting Korean household customs is vital for anyone interacting with Korean culture. Whether you are visiting for a short time or planning a longer stay, being mindful of these dos and donts can help you make a positive impression and foster genuine connections. By preparing yourself with knowledge and understanding of these cultural practices, you can approach any Korean household with confidence and respect.

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Avery Ingram

Avery Ingram


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