Upon arrival to Korea and during your Orientation, you will be told about the etiquette you will be expected to adhere to for the duration of your stay in Korea. However, as this is just another talk among many others you will receive in your jet-lagged and exhaustive two week orientation, much of this information may well be lost.
Here are a few basic etiquette guidelines to get you through daily Korean life.
Firstly, bowing as a greeting and farewell is essential and would be considered an insult if not done.
Secondly, when calling someone, please do not use the westernized hand signal for “come here” – Fingers upwards. This is very disrespectful, as Koreans use this hand signal when calling their animals. When calling a person, it is best that your fingers are faced downwards.
Thirdly, always take your shoes off when entering your school or a place of residence, this will take some getting use too, especially during the freezing cold winters.
Lastly, when dining with your Korean co-teachers (which will occur frequently) it is customary to place your one hand under your pouring arm when pouring a drink for someone else. If you are receiving the drink, hold the glass with both hands. When you drink it is customary and polite to turn your head to the side and drink ‘privately’.
I hope these few basic tips will help you find your way in Korea.