Are Korean People Friendly? Talking to Strangers in Korea

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If you’re a foreigner in Korea, you’ll definitely stand out, and you’ll have a different experience of talking to strangers than Koreans! Watch this video to see a few different examples of what you might experience if you come to Korea!

Covered in this video:
Talking to strangers as a foreigner
What Korean people feel about talking to strangers (other Koreans)

What’s it like to talk to strangers in your country? Let us know!



Keith
Keith
Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he's put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

36 Comments

  1. Rene says:

    Hi, I’m from Malaysia. Well actually Malaysian people are friendly so when it comes to foreigners it’s nothing to us in fact we love to treat foreigners. We, as Malaysian, do know how to speak English, but some of them aren’t that fluent. Besides, in Malaysia there are many ethnics & of course, it means we could speak many languages. I could say that Malaysia people are very friendly since we’ve a lot of foreigners here. Even at my school there were some foreigners that lost & we helped them. It’s actually weird for a 14-year-old girl like me to tell about my country but I found it is good to share.

  2. Anon says:

    Rene, that’s because your country is in Southeast Asia which is a place that knows the value of compassion and friendliness, of welcoming strangers without prejudice and fear. Korea is devoid of that sadly, because they are intuitively wired to be fearful of outsiders and regularly stereotype, assume and sadly have to cohabit in a society run by greed, selfishness and a desire to annihilate the competition because what matters first is “me, myself and I”. So stabbing people in the back and fakeness is very rampant. Younger Koreans are always complaining about the heirarchal system and there is a reason when they go abroad that they never want to come back. I am constantly being reminded by my Korean friends here and back home how lucky I am that in my society we don’t have to deal with this rudeness. Koreans, as friends, on the other hand, are amazing people, very giving and usually quite sane. To strangers, it’s horrible. I have family visiting and I am embarrassed as they are very outgoing and friendly too and will be shocked when they arrive and say good morning to someone, even if it’s in Korean. Korea could learn a lot from other countries about being welcoming. Back where I come from, and ina lot of the countries always say they visit, people stop to ask you where you’re from and if you’re enjoying the country. Here, people don’t want to sit next to foreigners on the train, pretty much run away when you try to ask them for help and look at you strange when you smile or say hello. Hiding behind “cultural differences” is poop. It’s rude here, on the whole.

    • Anon says:

      I would also like to add, being fearful of speaking English is not an excuse also. I have been to many countries where English is not a first language and people still make the effort to help you out. The Japanese will take you down the street to where you need to go to help you, not spit on the floor in front of you and push you out of the way before you can say two words. The Chinese and Vietnamese laugh a lot in embarrassment because they cannot speak English but they invited me into their homes. South Americans let you share family meals and Greek people pour you a glass of something and tell you to sit down next to them, even if they cannot speak a word. Kenyan people have given me their last few coins to help me get on the bus, to which I obviously declined and Egyptian people have shook my hand many times for asking them about where they live. I have experienced kindness from Koreans here, of course. And I am not naive enough to generalise that there aren’t Koreans who know how to be hospitable, but sadly, on the whole, Seoul (particularly, it does get better as you go outside) is a hive of rudeness, ignorance and disrespect, especially towards foreigners.

  3. Justin says:

    From my experience with random korean not in korea though, many do not seem to reciprocate the warmth and friendliness i show. Some of course are better, but from my overall impressions i can say there is some barrier.

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