5 Unique Cultures Facts About Korea
One of the most interesting aspects of any country is its culture and superstitions. Superstitions are more than just a quirky fact about a place—they serve an important purpose in defining and unifying a community. The beliefs that one community creates result in a unique and shared experience of culture. As some of you might be planning that summer trip, we wanted to share five interesting facts about South Korean culture that you won’t forget.
You Will Not Find a 4th Floor in Most Buildings
Korea is a land of tall apartment blocks and skyscrapers, so it sounds weird that there would be no 4th floor, right? Well, sometimes the 4th floor has been replaced with the ‘F floor’ instead (F for four, I assume). The reason for this is due to the pronunciation for the Chinese character for death, which is the same as the number 4. To avoid wishing bad luck on a building, or the people riding the elevator, the number 4 was removed and replaced with F. This is called tetraphobia.
You Should Pay Money to Attend a Wedding
Weddings are not cheap, especially when you must invite so many people. Fortunately, Korea has a unique way to help newlyweds cover these costs. When someone asks you to their wedding, you will be expected to deposit a cash gift in an envelope on the special day. People are ok to pay as it is expected that they will return the favor one day. This is the same as other cultures where you would buy gifts, but the money can be used for other things, such as a new home. And when someone gets a new home, there is a different gift you should give.
Koreans Are Already 1 Year Old When They Are Born
Babies in Korea are considered already 1-year-old when they are born. Known as the East Asian age reckoning, the idea is that you cannot be born and be 0 years old, therefore you must start at 1. Although many other East Asian countries stopped using this system, it is still common in Korea. People will tell you their age based on the fact that they were 1 when they were born. Koreans refer to the age in years since you were born (how most other countries count), as their ‘International Age.’
Valentine's Day in South Korea is All About the Boys
On this romantic day, it is the men who are celebrated-- as Korean women traditionally give gifts to their boyfriends or husbands. Unlike other countries that celebrate Valentine’s Day as a partner holiday celebrating both members, South Korea is one of the few cultures that has a more one-sided focus.
Christmas Is for Couples, New Year for Families
Christmas is celebrated in Korea; however, it is different from it is in most other countries. It is a national holiday, so everyone is off, and during this day couples usually go out for a meal together. Fortunately, you can see lots of Christmas decorations in popular tourist spots like Myeongdong.
On New Year’s Day, families come together and enjoy a number of traditional activities and foods or join in New Year Festivals. There are lots of festivals you can enjoy and one of the most popular things to do is watch the first sunrise of the year from the coast.
Source: Joel Marrinan from In My Korea