Exploring Korea: 8 things to know about traveling on the ROK

Image: HeungSoon via Pixabay
Image: HeungSoon via Pixabay

Exploring Korea: 8 things to know about traveling on the ROK

Haps Korea Magazine

South Korea is a great place to travel. It has a vibrant culture, a welcoming culture, and plenty to see and do.

However, these are the 8 things you should know about traveling in South Korea before you book your flights.

If a Korean person offers you food, it is rude to say no.

This is a common custom in South Korea. You should at least try a bite. Here’s what you should know first, though.

  • The food in Korea is AMAZING!
  • The food in Korea can be spicy [and doesn’t always agree with foreign stomachs].
  • Korean friends may invite you to eat with them when you go out drinking. You can’t really refuse (See #1).
  • If you’re invited to the home of a Korean person, bring fruit or dessert as part of your gift.

Many foreigners can enter without a visa

This is true for most Western countries, but not all. The United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia are just some countries that require a visa to visit South Korea. That said, many people can enter without any issue, including citizens of Japan and Singapore.

A visit to the DMZ is not recommended

The demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea is one of the most highly militarized borders in the world. Many people tour it, but this isn’t something that travel companies recommend doing unless you’re a soldier or have cause to be there for other reasons. It’s not safe.

The internet connection is outstanding

South Korea has a truly great internet connection for a country. It’s one of the best in the world. The downside? It’s also very expensive and not always available to use as freely as you would like. At least you can play poker online and FaceTime with your friends and family from anywhere.

Pressing a button for service

South Korea can sometimes feel like a Disneyland for adults with so many conveniences. You’ve never lived until you press your floor number on an elevator, have your food brought to your table at a restaurant by pressing a button, or go shopping in a store where you don’t have to pick up your own items (and get out your credit card yourself). Hurray for the future!

Tipping is frowned upon

The Korean custom is not to do so at restaurants and for services provided by companies (and most other places). The minimum wage in South Korea is pretty generous, which makes the option of tipping a less socially accepted thing.

Download local apps for directions

Google maps are great for most places all over the world, but you won’t be able to access them in South Korea. Instead, download Kakao Maps or Naver Map for directions around South Korea.

Get used to calling people by their English names

This is not an insult; Koreans love it when you try to speak Korean with them. However, there are a lot of sounds in the Korean language that simply doesn’t exist in other languages. Many times, foreigners mishear Korean words and call someone the wrong name as a result.

If you meet a Korean person through an introduction, it is perfectly acceptable to call them by their English name from the get-go. It’s actually encouraged! Just try not to forget it later on. You can always ask how to say a name again if you forget after knowing a new friend after a few weeks.

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