South Korea Culture and Traditions

South Korea Culture

Kim, Lee, Park – why are they all named the same?

In Korea, the surname is given first, followed by the first name. It’s very different from ours. Here we usually mention the first name first and then the last name.

Only about 250 family names are known in Korea. There are names that appear very often. The people do not have to be related, although they have the same name. Kim is the most common name at 22 percent, followed by Lee (15 percent) and Park (9 percent). Choi is still common at 5 percent, but not as common as Kim.

First or last name?

The most famous Kim at the moment is Kim Yu-na. She was born in 1990 and is an Olympic figure skating champion and world champion. She is a celebrated star in South Korea, promoting many Korean products, from Samsung to Hyundai. We also know the English name “Kim”, but that’s a first name for us. You will also find these names in North Korea, because despite the political division of the country, the people have not given up their family names. The North Korean dictators also have the surname Kim, which is also put in front here. For more information about South Korea and Asia, please visit areacodesexplorer.

One year older!

In Korea everyone is a year older than we are! How come When a baby is born, it is considered “one year old”. Because the Koreans count the nine months in their mother’s womb with their age. In addition, in Korea you don’t get a year older on your birthday, but at the turn of the year! In Korea you can even be two years older than here. For example, someone born on December 31, 2017 is one year old and will be two years old on January 1, 2018. With us, the baby would only be one day old…

Successful in the Pisa test

Maybe you’ve heard of the Pisa test too? This is a test in which students from all countries are compared with one another in terms of their performance. And at the end there is a leaderboard. For example, Germany’s students were pretty bad at the first Pisa test. It was a shock for everyone and they tried to change something about the class.

But the South Koreans have always done very well, as have other children from Asian countries such as China or Singapore. And the German students are still lagging behind, even if – according to Pisa – they have gotten better. The Asian students seem to be better able to cope with the demands of Pisa.

But why is that so? Are the lessons better or are the teachers smarter? Nobody in South Korea would utter the sentence “I am or have always been bad at math”. In doing so, he would lose face and look pretty stupid. Most of us grin, because quite a few are bad at math.

But teaching in South Korea is also very different and maybe not at all what we would like it to be. There is only frontal teaching, only the exams count, oral grades are not important and if someone does not understand the material, it is his own fault and must take care of catching up on the material.

Tutoring is the rule, not the exception

Most of the children have additional tuition after school, in which they have to study, study and study again. You will then not only practice the schoolwork, but also for other subjects. Indeed, South Korean children are better prepared for math. The pressure is great and if you want to become something, you have to learn a lot in South Korea.

What is SKY?

Three letters mark the first letters of the elite Korean universities. The abbreviation stands for the elite universities in the country:
• Seoul National University,
• Korea University and
• Yonsei University.
Almost everyone in South Korea wants to send their children to the elite universities. For this, the children have to take extra entrance exams. It takes hours of study until late at night and only the best come there. Unfortunately, so many want to go to one of these universities, and so a ruthless competition begins between the students.

South Korea Culture

Behavior and morals

Koreans don’t say “no”

You are likely to learn from your parents that you should clearly say “no” when you don’t want to do something. But in Korea it is very difficult to say “no”. First of all you say “yes”! Even if you can’t or don’t want to do what you say “yes” to. If you say, for example, you will come and then not come, then that is better than saying “no” beforehand. That would be particularly impolite with us.

Criticizing a Korean is very rude, you don’t do that. Everyone in South Korea is polite and respectful of one another.

Please be polite!

Courtesy is very important in South Korea. Children have a lot of respect for their parents, grandparents, teachers and later also professors at universities. In German we know a politeness form, that is “Sie”. If you don’t know an adult very well, address them as “you”. There are ten different forms of politeness in Korean, which are expressed through language. Phew, you can quickly make a mistake.

Rigorous upbringing and respect

Korean children are brought up very strictly. They have a lot of respect for their parents and even more respect for their father. The higher the social position of a family, the more the fathers are revered and the rules are even stricter. Even in school, the children learn to be very disciplined and not to contradict. Of course, that doesn’t mean that parents love their children less in South Korea than in other countries. You just have a different relationship with each other and behave differently.

Rules for pouring

In Korea it is perfectly normal to have alcohol with food. However, special table rules apply for this. When young people go out to dinner with the elderly, it is customary for the younger to fill the glass with the older one. The bottle must be held with both hands. Then when the older person picks up the glass and drinks, the younger person averts their gaze. At least the older one pays for the food.