Summary: Republic of Korea
Cultural Competence for Professional Travelers
Korean men greet each other with a slight bow and sometimes an accompanying handshake while
maintaining eye contact .Many South Koreans shake hands with expatriates after the bow,
thereby blending both cultural styles.
The junior person (or of lower social status) initiates the greeting and should be the first to bow to
the person of higher status, yet it is the most senior person who initiates the handshake. Women
rarely shake hands--men should generally not try to shake hands with Korean women.
Koreans shake hands less firmly than Americans do. To show respect when shaking hands, touch
your right forearm with your left hand. Historically, yangban wore robes; pulling back the sleeve
of the robe showed the other person you had no weapon up your sleeve.
The person who initiates the bow says, "man-na-suh pan-gop-sumnida", which means "pleased to
Information about the other person will be given to the person they are being introduced to in
advance of the actual meeting.
Wait to be introduced at a social gathering.
When you leave a social gathering, say good-bye and bow to each person individually.