Culture & Traditions

About Korea | Visit Korea - Korea Tourism Organization

May 20, 2019

About Korea: Culture & Tradition
By: Korea Tourism Organization


Nowadays, if you visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, or the Hanok Village in Jeonju, it's a common sight to see many locals and foreigners wear Hanbok. It goes to show how widespread and popular Korean culture has become throughout the world.


Korean culture is similar to Chinese, Japanese culture in that it is influenced by Confucianism, which established many traditions that we see in modern Korea today. It determines the ethical code in everyday life such as showing respect to elders and family. Hence, it is why many people ask regarding age, marriage or status to determine how to behave and treat one another in terms of social position.






Hangeul is one of the most unique creations of Korea, and was introduced in 1443 by King Sejong (1418-1450), the 4th king of the Joseon. 

Hangeul as a written language, did not have any influence from pre-existing writing systems. The language is one of the easiest languages to learn, evidenced by Korea's illiteracy rates being one of the lowest in the world.

There is even public holiday called Hangeul Day on October 9th, to commemorate and celebrate the creation of the alphabet.




Hanbok, Korea's Traditional Costume


Hanbok is the traditional attire of the Korean people, which comes in various shapes and colors to reflect the culture and lifestyle during its time.

Although it is only worn on special occasions and anniversaries, nowadays, hanbok is worn for fashion, and tourists find the Hanbok experience a must-do during their visit to Korea.




Hansik, Traditional Korean Food


Hansik refers to Korean traditional food, centered on rice, served alongside a bowl of soup and various side dishes. Hansik is known to be extremely healthy, due to the amount based on fermented foods such as Kimchi, or Gochujang. 

Some popular Korean dishes among foreigners include Bulgogi, bibimbap, and Hanjeongsik (Korean Full Table). Visitors are always treated with a little bit of everything when trying out Korean food.




Hanok, Korean Traditional Housing


Hanok refers to houses built in the traditional Korean style. Hanoks can be categorized as noblemen and common-folk residences, which are characterized by the type of roof. Noblemen residences are usually tile-roofed, while common-folk residences are thatch-roofed.

There are two main charms to hanoks. The first is the unique stone layered heating system of 'ondol', while the second is that hanoks are environmentally friendly, made from completely natural building materials.

Today, majority of hanoks remain to commemorate Korea's past. Some have been changed in include modern facilities installed, while some remain untouched. 



Korean Traditional Music


Korean traditional music can be divided into music listened to by the royal family, and by the common-folk, each differing greatly in style. 

Jongmyo Jeryeak, is the royal ancestral ritual music, which was played during ancestral rites, and is characterized as solemn and splendid. In contrast, commoners overcame the difficulties of the working class by singing folk music, or by pansori, a traditional Korean music that narrates a themed story

Recently, there has been an increase in a fusion of traditional and contemporary Korean styles of music, to feature both elements of music styles. Performances such as "Nanta" or "Gugak B-Boy" are examples of such fusions featuring traditional Korean rhythms and contemporary rock music.


Final Remarks:


Much of Korea's traditions and cultures today, have been influenced by growing globalization and western influence. Nevertheless, the Confucian influence still remains strong, and though foreigners sometimes may find it confusing, the Korean sense of belonging, social position and identity remains strong.


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Visit Korea - Korea Tourism Organization

Korea Tourism Organization - Visit Korea

Visit Korea - Korea Tourism Organization

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