1. South Korea considers you to be 1 year old when you give birth
In South Korea babies are 1 year old at the time they are born. When asked by foreigners about their age, Koreans often respond with two numbers: their "international" age and their "Korean".
They all turn 65 on New Year's Eve. In some cases, a Korean born exactly on the same date as you may be two years older than yourself!
This system is rooted in the Chinese numeral system that was once widespread in Korea.
2. The same three surnames are shared by half of South Koreans
It is possible that you have noticed that many South Koreans are named Kim, Park, or Lee. Do they all have the same name? No.
This is due to historical reasons that go back to the Silla Kingdom (57 BCE – 935 CE). It also has to do with their relations to China and Japan, which were not quite as peaceful.
Statistics show that only 250 surnames are used in the entire population (compared to 100.000 in countries of similar size), with Kim being by far the most popular.
3. It is common to ask about the blood types.
South Korea will ask you the most common questions, aside from "how old do you look?" "What's your blood type?" will be the most frequently asked question. However, they won't ask about your medical history.
Koreans believe blood types are linked to personality. Therefore, asking about them is a great way to quickly get to know you.
You can even find accurate blood personality charts with the specific traits of each type. They also help determine compatibility between people by determining their blood type. This is why "What's your blood type?" is an often asked question on first dates.
4. Unlucky number 4 is
Because of the similar pronunciation between the word 4 and "death", 4 in South Korea is believed to bring bad luck. As you wouldn't find a 13th-floor bed in a Western hospital, you won’t find one in Korean buildings. Instead, the button for the fourth floor will be marked with "F".
This superstition is not shared by everyone.
5. Plastic surgery is perfectly normal
Seoul is the capital of plastic surgery in the world. There are approximately 500 clinics offering esthetic services in Gangnam. Plastic surgery is accepted in Korea, whereas it's not a common practice in other countries.
Parents are often encouraged to have their children undergo some type of procedure before going to university.
Celebrities have made the "Caucasian" look a popular choice for women and men. Many people in their 30s say they have had work done. Many people travel to Seoul for treatment.
6. No facial hair
South Korea is very against any type of facial hair. Beards and mustaches are considered a sign that you don't care enough. Men should have a youthful, clean complexion.
Employers will have a negative impression of your facial hair, which can make it difficult to get a job.
How about those beards of the Imperial Palace guards with their long, well-shaped beards. These are fake.
7. They are Asia's top-rated drinking culture
It may seem surprising, but Koreans are Asia’s top drinkers. Recent surveys show that they are among the top 20 world's most popular people to consume alcohol. Soju is a strong alcohol made from rice and grain that is used to celebrate most holidays.
In South Korea, it is acceptable to get completely drunk. It is also a common custom to have a drink with your boss or colleagues after work.
You can even find them in convenience stores across the country.
8. Valentine's Day is only for the men
Contrary to the rest of the world, Korean men receive gifts and attention on February 14th. In recent years, the holiday has been more defined as a day for couples.
Don't worry, women can still celebrate the White Day one month later, March 14th.
It doesn't end there. South Koreans have 12 love days in total, one on each month's 14th.
9. Most women have three hairstyles.
You will notice that most South Korean women have the same hairstyles with minor variations if you visit. Their hairstyles are usually determined by their marital status and age.
Younger single women tend to have long hair. Newly married women usually cut their hair at the ear. Older women may opt for a perm. Although there are some exceptions, almost all cases follow the same pattern.
10. Esports are big!
South Korea was the birthplace for esports, and it is taken very seriously. Esports academy are available for young Koreans.
Gaming culture began to flourish in the 1990s. Until the pandemic, thousands crowded the esports arenas where competitions took places.
Because the best players are often regarded as stars, it is the fifth most desired future job.
11. Toilet paper is a popular housewarming gift.
Although not very common, Korean housewarming parties are more popular than you might think. It's not unusual for friends to bring laundry detergent or toilet paper when you move into a new home.
Toilet paper and tissue are the most requested gifts, although all types of cleaning products are acceptable. If you're looking to buy a house South Korea then there is no need to purchase them.
12. Electric fans are believed to be able to kill people.
Many Koreans either leave their fans open or close the windows to keep them from getting too hot. A popular belief is that leaving a fan on in an enclosed room can lead to death.
It is not dangerous, but there are many opinions. Some believe it will make you sick, while others say it will cause extreme cold. The fear of "fan death", which is common in South Korean , is something that many people worry about.
13. Two different New Year's Days are celebrated.
Most Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year according to the Chinese calendar, but South Korea celebrates the new year in both ways.
January 1st is generally considered a more casual and relaxed holiday that's spent with family members. They also exchange similar cards to those we use for Christmas.
However, the other celebration lasts for three days and is more loudly celebrated, often according to Chinese Lunar calendar.
14. Korea is home to the oldest astronomical observatory in the world.
The ancient tower of Cheomseongdae can be found in Gyeongju. It is located in the ancient capital of Korea. Although it may not seem like a landmark of great importance, this monument has been there since the 7th Century.
By Queen Seondeok's order, Cheomseongdae was built during the Silla kingdom. It is the oldest surviving astronomical observatory and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The structure has remained mostly intact over the past 1300 years but its precise use is not yet fully understood.
15. Seoul is home to more than half of Koreans.
You already know Seoul is a huge city that requires a lot time to fully explore and appreciate. Many people don't realize the enormity of this city.
South Korea is home to the capital, which is the 5th largest city in the world. It has 26 million residents. This is just half the country's 51 million population.
Seoul, a huge city that never sleeps and offers all visitors could ever want, if they just look hard enough. The Korean capital, despite its size is easy to navigate.
South Korea visa requirements
You will need a visa to travel to South Korea. You will need the following documents to obtain the visa:
- Original passport, at least six months valid, with three blank pages. Also include all your other passports.
- Filled visa application form
- Two recent color photographs.
- A personal cover letter.
- Original updated bank statements from the past 6 months.
- Your income tax returns
- Return flight tickets.
- A hotel reservation.
There will be a Rs4,999 tax (or $66). A South Korean visa takes between 5-10 business days to process. You might need different documents depending on which type of visa you apply for.
South Korea offers a visa waiver program which allows citizens from certain countries to enter the country for a limited time without the need for a visa. You will need to complete a K-ETA ( Korea ETC) online at the latest 24 hours before you fly.
Photo of South Korean Visa Requirements
Your photo for a South Korean visa has to meet very specific requirements. If you do not follow these guidelines, your photo may be rejected. Photos must be taken in color and sized at 35x45mm in 600 dpi. Your face must cover at least 80% of the background. Prescription glasses are only allowed. Uniforms and religious headwear are not permitted.
You can see that the requirements for a photograph for your South Korean visa is very stringent. It is difficult to take a photo with these constraints. Professional photography can also be very expensive.
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