Friday, January 21, 2011

Awesome Things about Korea #29: Friends walking arm-in-arm together

Upon first arriving in Korea, it might seem a little strange to some foreigners how close Koreans will be with their friends.  It's not uncommon to see girls walking arm-in-arm or holding hands here.  You can even see some guys doing this as well.  Friendships are very close here in a way that I had never experienced before.

The first time I went shopping with one of my Korean friends, she slung her arm through mine like it was nothing. At this, I was a little confused, but after she explained to me how friends act with each other here, I was able to understand and even adopt the behavior.  Now I find myself unconsciously slinging my arm through my friend's before she can.  I think if I tried to bring that home, though, my North Carolina friends would definitely be confused!

I remember one time in a class my students and I were discussing how friends interact in different countries.  I explained to them that most of my friends and I greet each other with a wave, a hello, and a hug--especially if we haven't seen the person in a long time.  My students thought this was funny.  When I told them that it was common in some European countries to greet friends with a kiss on the cheek, they went crazy.  "Kiss your friends!?!" they laughed.  "No way!"

Here I see friends waving and wishing their friends to "go well (안녕히 가세요!)"  Sometimes this might be accompanied by a small bow, depending on who is speaking.  When I bid farewell to my Korean friends, though, I always give them a hug.  This sometimes elicits smiles or funny looks from other Koreans standing around.  Sure, it's a little different than what they're used to, but why not incorporate a little Western tradition into the Eastern one?


  1. It's interesting they went crazy about the kiss on the cheek, I'm guessing because it is an intimate act. Yet Koreans commonly hold hands, which I see as such as the same, if not more, intimate than holding hands!

    Just the way society perceives the norms...

  2. I went through all the posts under this title and I found them a good resource for my next trip to Seoul! Very inspirational, thanks for sharing these impressions.

  3. Thank you for visiting and reading my blog. I am happy to hear that my posts on Korea have given you some information and insight for your trip! I hope that you have the opportunity to encounter at least some of the awesome things about Korea while you are visiting.


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