South Korea has many things to offer, and has become very popular for many reasons. A lot of tourists visit because they love the culture and the K-Pop and K-drama culture that this country is known for.
I have been living here for two years, and I have to say that it has been a life changing experience for me. So here are a few things that you need to know about South Korea before you visit.
They are not early birds
When I first started exploring Seoul, I realized that most areas are pretty quiet in the early mornings, even on the weekends. The hustle and bustle areas that many people have heard of or want to visit usually get busy in the afternoon, and once they start to get busy, it doesn't stop. It can become overcrowded with people and very lively.
If you are an early bird, then I would suggest for you to check the times that the cafes/restaurants or shops open in your area, before you spontaneously try to visit them. However, it's good to know that convenience stores are always open, and there are some restaurants open 24/7 since there are workers who wake up at the crack of dawn too and want a hearty breakfast.
Most Korean foods are either sweet or salty, or both
Korean cuisine is absolutely delicious. There are many dishes for you to explore and try, and I am still even discovering new dishes now! The typical flavor profile here is sweet, spicy or salty - sometimes it can be sweet and salty and in Korean there is a phrase for this called 'Danjjandanjjan'.
If you're looking for a mild or plain taste, you won't find it - the dishes here are bursting with flavor. You will also be surprised with a few food products here. One of my first meals here was a sandwich from a convenience store, and I thought it was a regular ham and cheese sandwich, until I was surprised by a hidden layer of strawberry jam. As I said, sweet and salty can come in all kinds of combinations here.
Tipping culture is not a thing here
In most cultures tipping is seen as a compliment to the worker, but tipping is not a thing in most Asian countries, including South Korea. It can actually be seen as something rude to do, so it's best to learn a few Korean phrases to thank them or to tell them how delicious the food is. Etiquette and mannerism is more important in their culture, so it is best to respect this and show appreciation in this way.
Most cafes and restaurants have slippers for you to change into
In Asian households it is disrespectful to wear your shoes in the house, which is why you are usually offered slippers to wear when you visit as a guest. There are some cafes and restaurants (mostly traditional ones or animal cafes), that will ask you to change into slippers too. This is something that you have to do out of respect, as it is part of etiquette and mannerism. Most hospitals that you would visit for a scan or treatment will ask you to do this too.
Don't be loud on the trains or buses
Most people like to have their own thinking time when using the public transport, hence why you will see that nearly everyone is on their phones or minding their own business. They don't appreciate noisy or loud people, and might even tell you to be quiet too. It is seen as rude mannerism, which they don't appreciate.
Something to keep in mind
Every culture has their own rule that they follow in society, including South Korea. There are many beautiful cities and countryside locations to visit here.