|Korea South Social Profile
Korea has its own cuisine, unlike Chinese or Japanese and Rice
is Korea's staple food. A
Korean meal comprises rice, soup,
rice water and 8-20 side dishes of bean-curd, fish, eggs, poultry,
vegetables and sea plants. Most Korean side dishes and
soups are heavily laced with red pepper.
Dishes include kimchi (the national dish of Korea, highly
spiced pickle of Chinese cabbage or white radish with turnips, onions,
chestnuts, red pepper, salt and fish), soups (based
on beef, pork, oxtail, other meat, fish, chicken and cabbage, almost
all spiced), pulgogi (marinated, charcoal-broiled
beef barbecue), Genghis Khan (thin slices of beef
and vegetables boiled at the table) or sinsollo
(meat, eggs, fish and vegetables such as chestnuts and pine nuts
cooked in a brazier chafing dish at the table). Some other examples
of local cuisine are sanjok (strips of steak with
mushrooms and onions), kalbichim (steamed beef
ribs), fresh abalone and shrimps (from Chejudo
Island, served with chili sauces, mustard or soy) and Korean
seaweed (prized throughout the Far East). There are waiter
and counter service available. Main hotels will always provide a wide range
of restaurants, serving Korean, Chinese and Japanese cuisine or
more Western-style food. For more details about Korean food,
a brochure called The Wonderful World of Korean Food
is available from Korea
National Tourism Organisation’s Tourist Information Centres.
Local drinks are mainly made from fermented rice or wheat, for example soju (like vodka and made from potatoes or grain), jungjong (expensive variant of rice wine) or yakju/takju
(cloudy and light tan-coloured) known together as makkoli.
There are many brands of Korean beer available, which include Cass, Hite and OB. Ginseng wine is
quite strong and sweet, fairly like brandy, but varies in taste according
to the common ingredient used. The most
type of drinking establishment
is the Suljip (wine bar), and there are also beer
houses serving the famous European brands.
Korea’s nightlife perfectly combines the traditional with
increasing external influences. The areas of Yong-Dong and Itaewon
in Seoul have nightclubs catering grandly to travellers, many with
evening cabarets. Some of the hotels also provides nightclubs but they
tend to be quite
high-priced. Larger hotels feature their own private
theatre restaurants, Korea House provides local
food in a Korean style atmosphere, followed by traditional Korean dancing
Many Beer halls are designed with a European style theme and they are famous places to drink. Travellers are
expected to eat and drink. There are also a lot of cinemas available. The National Theatre provides concerts, operas and recitals
while the Korea House and the Drama Centre offer classical music, dances, plays and the performances
of Korean. For daily
listings of events, contact the Korea’s English-language
papers. Many licensed state-of-the-art casinos
operate at many places throughout the country.
Popular products to purchase are brocades, gold
jewellery, handbags, hand-tailored clothes, leatherwork,
embroidered or beaded), silks, topaz, amethyst, amber, baskets, brass ware, costume dolls, jade and silver, ginseng,
musical instruments, lacquer ware,
paintings, woodcarvings, scrolls and screens. As many places, the prices are fixed
in the department stores, but may be negotiated in arcades and markets.
There are foreigners’ duty free shops available in main cities, where people
can use foreign currency with a valid passport. Hotel staff will be able
to tell their guests the location (see Sports & Activities section
for further information).
Monday-Friday 10.30 am - 7.30 pm (department stores), 10.30 am - 8.30 pm (markets
and smaller shops).
For travellers who buy products or goods worth more than W50,000 at stores
with ‘Tax Free Shopping’ signs or goods over W30,000
at outlets with ‘Tax Refund Shopping’
signs, 70-80% of the paid VAT (Value Added Tax) and SET
(Special Excise Tax) will be refunded in cash at the airport. Travellers may require to present receipts and purchases
to the customs officer.
Korea (Rep) celebrates its many yearly festivals through the year. The
most important festival is Buddha’s Birthday,
during which the ‘Feast of Lanterns’
is performed in the streets of Korea Republic. Of great
importance are the yearly village rituals which are nationally recognised.
At these festivals, great generals, mountain spirits and royalty
of the past are remembered. There are also festivals that mark the
changing of the seasons and festivals of prayer for a good harvest.
All are characterised by processions, by masked and costumed local
people, dancing, music, battles and sports, to recreate the original
historic event or to conjure up good spirits. Contact the Korea National Tourism Organisation’s Tourist Information Centres for more information and
The following is a variety of special events occurring in Korea
(Rep) in 2006:
|| Seongsan Ilchul Festival
(New Year’s sunrise).
|| Daegwallyeong Snow Flower Festival,
Gangwon-do/Inje Pond Smelt Fishing (ice fishing competition
and festivities), Soyangho Lake.
|| First Full Moon Field Fire Festival
(burning of dry grass), Jeju-do.
|| Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival,
|| Yeongam Wang-in Cultural Festival,
|| Bucheon-si Puchon International
Fantastic Film Festival, Goyang-si.
||Yeosu International Youth Festival.
Before entering a Korean home, shoes should
be removed and entertainment
is always lavish and Koreans may sometimes be offended if their
hospitality is not accepted. Customs are quite similar to those in the
West. Small gifts are normal and traditional etiquette needs
the use of the right hand for giving and receiving.
Dress should be casual and practical
clothes are proper. Traditional costume, or hanbok,
is generally worn on holidays and special occasions. Men should wear baji, a short jacket and loose trousers,
that are tied at the ankles. Women's hanboks consist of a wrap-around
skirt and a bolero-style jacket and is usually called a chima-jeogori.
Both ensembles may be topped by a durumagi which is a long coat.
Even though it is not a Korean custom, most hotels and other tourist
facilities add a 10 % service charge to their bills.
drivers are not tipped except that they help with luggage.