Korean Beliefs and Practices
Koreans believe in sincerity and following protocols while meeting, eating, praying or even celebrating is very important. Let us have a look at different Korean etiquette in this section of the article.
Bowing is equivalent to the handshake in Korean culture. Bowing means showing gratitude and respect to the person you are meeting with. The younger generations have blended the western culture with their native culture by shaking hands after bowing to each other.
Gifts have remained an integral part of their culture; however, gifts are always given according to the capacity and affordability of the other person because Koreans firmly believe in reciprocating. The quantity or numbers also add value to your gifts; seven is considered as a lucky number so anything in multiples of seven will be accepted heartily. However, they avoid giving anything that falls in the multiple value of four because Koreans consider four as an unlucky number. Red, yellow and pink colors denote happiness and prosperity in the Korean culture. The use of white, black or green colors for wrapping is offensive and must be avoided.
Korean food and drinks add flavor to their traditional lifestyle and rice malt served with kimchi is their specialty. Cold noodles, bibimbap, bulgogi and dakgalbi are some of the world famous Korean dishes. However, dining and eating means following a strict protocol. No indoor farewells, the removal of shoes before entering the house or dining room, and most importantly, only male hosts will serve the drinks.
Buddhism is the main religion in Korea and its teachings reflect in Korean lifestyle, culture and arts. Numerous Buddhist statues, monuments and temples have been included in the National Treasure and Monument list by the government. Yungdrung is major symbol of Korean Buddhism and it can be seen outside temples and religious places in Korea.
Korean culture is incomplete without pottery and ceramics. Pottery is Korea's cultural emblem and it started thousands of years ago. Today, celadon, a Korean blue-glazed pottery, is famous all over the world. This pottery style was passed on to the Japanese by the Koreans.
A Korean marriage does not mean the union of two individuals only, but also the unification of two families and two different lifestyles. Matchmaking with the help of matchmakers (Eui Hon), wedding parade on a pony, bowing to the members of family (Gyobaerye), couple drinking from the same cup (Hapgeunrye) and bridal procession (Wugwi) are major rituals of a traditional Korean marriage.
Traditional clothes are the pride of the Korean people. Hanbok is the name given to traditional Korean attire. It is worn in marriage ceremonies, family functions and traditional festivals. It is also the official government and national dress in Korea. People of all ages wear it with pride because it is one of the emblems of their cultural identity.
Knowing and understanding these customs is important because while visiting the country, you must abide to their rules and customs; otherwise, you might end up in an embarrassing situation because western practices and customs are totally different from the customs of the Korean people.
Beyond kimchi, K-pop and Koreanovelas, Koreans are becoming a ubiquitous presence in the Philippines with tourist arrivals estimated to reach the one million mark by yearend, up by 30 percent from 2010.
Based on the data gathered by Inquirer Research, the figure would make them the largest group of foreign citizens to ever have landed on Philippine soil in a single year.
In addition, according to Korean Ambassador to Manila Hye Min Lee, Koreans studying or working in the country now number more than 100,000.
“This is a sign of the strong and growing people-to-people relations between Korea and the Philippines which help promote mutual understanding between us,” he said at the 2nd Philippines-Korea Partnership Forum held at the Intercontinental Manila last week.
“More than 740,000 Koreans visited the Philippines in 2010, ranking Korea as the top tourist arrivals. This year, a million Koreans will be visiting the Philippines, an increase of 30 percent compared to last year,” Lee added.
According to him, some 115,000 Koreans are residing in the Philippines, drawn by practical living in the country, English-speaking locals and a shared history and values.
Airline linkage has also been on an upswing with 150 flights between the Philippines and South Korea on a weekly basis, or more than 20 flights every day, Lee said.
Since 2006, Koreans have been the top visitors to the Philippines, followed by Americans who previously dominated the ranking, and the Japanese, government figures showed.
But more than people-to-people exchange, Lee said he was cheered by the ever deepening “heart-to-heart” relations between the two countries and the Filipinos’ growing fondness for Korean popular culture under the so-called Korean wave, or “hallyu.”
“Since my assumption in July 2010, I have seen growing interest by Filipinos toward Korean telenovelas and K-pop,” he told an audience of diplomats and academics in the forum jointly organized by the University of the Philippines Asian Center and Ateneo Center for Asian Studies.
Lee cited the creation of the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines “in order to sustain the growing cultural affinity” between the two countries and to further promote cultural exchange and enhance cooperation.
A study by the market research firm, TNS Global, titled “Filipino Perception of Korea and the Koreans” found that Korean culture was among the top three cultures Filipinos were attracted to, along with that of the United States and Japan.
In her presentation, Marie Lee of TNS Global said the most popular Korean cultural activities among Filipinos were pop concerts, food festivals and Korean telenovelas (or Koreanovelas).
The most recalled Korean celebrities, according to the study, were the Korean girl group “Wonder Girls,” which popularized the song “Nobody,” pop star Rain, girl band 2NE1, whose members include Sandara Park who started her career in the Philippines and boy band Super Junior.
“Baker King” topped the list of popular Korean dramas, followed by “Jewel in the Palace,” “Temptation of Wife” and “Boys over Flowers.”
Filipinos also showed awareness of Korean food and drinks such as kimchi, ginseng and soju, Korean brands such as Samsung, Kia and LG and most knew of Taekwondo’s Korean origins.
‘Still largely unfamiliar’
But the study found that “traditional Korean culture and language are still largely unfamiliar to Filipinos.”
“Nearly everybody knows there is a North and a South Korea, but only about half of those who have seen the South Korean flag know that it is South Korea’s,” it added.
The study, conducted from April 6 to 11, used a random sample of 300 Metro Manila respondents between 15 and 45 years old, from all economic classes, and who must be aware of Korean culture and who do not reject Korean culture in general.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura Del Rosario, speaking at
the same forum, said the affinity between South Korea and the Philippines could be traced back to the Korean war when the Philippines sent some 7,500 expeditionary forces to help defend Seoul from the invading communist North.
(Former President Fidel V. Ramos was among the Filipino Korean War veterans, while martyred Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. covered the war as a correspondent for the Manila Times.)
“I would like to believe that the reason they [Koreans] are here is because we were there,” Del Rosario said.
But the presence of more Koreans has also increased the potential of cross-cultural conflict.
Another study presented at the forum by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), “Korean Community in the Philippines: Existing and Emerging Challenges,” discussed language and other barriers between the two cultures based on interviews with Koreans living in the Philippines.
In a presentation, Wansoo Lee of the IOM Migration Research and Training Center said the study found that some Koreans had exhibited “self centered perception, attitude, behavior” and “disregard of Filipino, rules, legal process,” as well as “reckless behavior, less effort to acculturate.”
Lacking in basic social skills
The attitude of Koreans toward Filipinos also showed the former’s “lack of basic social skills,” according to the study, which found that only 14 percent of the respondents answered yes when asked whether they trust Filipinos while 42.9 percent replied no.
More than a third, or 38.3 percent, agreed with a statement that “Filipinos take advantage of others,” and only 22.1 percent did not. But almost half, or 42.7 percent, did not agree that “Filipinos complain a lot.”
Two-thirds of the respondents, or 64.7 percent, answered no when asked if “Filipinos follow the rules” while a scant 6.8 percent said yes, the study found.
About an equal number of the Korean respondents said yes and no when asked whether they had Filipino friends, with 26.4 percent saying yes, and 26.9 percent saying no. But more of the respondents, 26.9 percent, answered in the affirmative when asked if there were “Filipinos who like me” than those who said no, at 19.3 percent.
An overwhelming majority, or 86 percent, of the respondents
disagreed that there are “Filipinos who bother/threaten me.”
The same study also found that more than half of the respondents answered yes when asked if crimes were increasing against Koreans in the Philippines while only 11.7 percent disagreed. Another 36.1 percent agreed that crimes committed by Koreans were increasing against nine percent who did not.
“But most respondents consider that their living area (61.5 percent) and working place (49.7 percent) are safe,” according to the study which used quantitative surveys for 592 respondents and in-depth interviews with 21 participants.
The respondents considered the most serious crimes committed against Koreans as robbery at 50.8 percent, theft at 48 percent, fraud at 45.6 percent, kidnapping at 37.3 percent, murder at 19.9 percent and gambling at 17.9 percent.
By contrast, crimes by Koreans that were considered most serious were gambling at 62.2 percent, fraud at 57.9 percent, sexual exploitation at 22.6 percent, violence at 22.1 percent, drugs at 20.4 percent and bribery at 16 percent.
The study found that the respondents admitted they did not feel safe with Filipinos and strangers, with 45.8 percent afraid of a crime committed by Filipinos and 42.2 percent of a crime carried out by strangers. Some 26.5 percent said they feared crime by their compatriots.
Show respect for Filipinos
Under the section “Way Forward,” the study recommended that Koreans living in the Philippines “learn English and Tagalog asap, understand [the] culture, ways of life and history of the Philippines, and show respect [for] and trust [in] Filipinos, behave properly.”
Koreans were also advised to “smile more, speak peacefully and listen carefully,” as well as to try to find a Filipino mentor, the study said.
In response to the growing Korean community, the Philippine National Police created in July a “Korean desk” in offices of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group nationwide, which was aimed at catering to Koreans involved in crimes, either as a victim or a suspect.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
TAGS: Culture, korea, Koreanovelas, Koreans, Philippines