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Korean Greetings and Bowing

How do Koreans greet each other? Let's find out.
© Universiti Malaya

There are several ways of greeting in Korea. The most common way to greet Koreans is to bow your head and bend your upper body to say “Hello”.

When you arrive at the airport in Korea, you may see the flight attendants folding their hands, bowing and saying “Nice to meet you” 만나서 반갑습니다 man-na-seo-ban-gap-seum-ni-da and “Welcome” 환영합니다 hwan-yeong-ham-ni-da. This way of greeting symbolizes politeness, warmth and respect. All the staff who work at the airport also bow to greet the foreigners who have just arrived in Korea, and so do staff at the departmental stores who bow to greet the customers.

Koreans learn how to greet in a proper manner since they were toddlers. Their parents and teachers emphasize the importance of bowing and greeting the elderly. It is common to see children greet their teachers with a “Good morning” greeting while folding their hands near their navels and bowing their heads.

These days, many Koreans usually shake hands, especially during the first meetings or wave hands, but greeting accompanied by bowing is still considered the most basic and common practice among Koreans. So, when you are in Korea and someone greets you, you may respond to their greeting in the same way as you are greeted.

© Universiti Malaya
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Fun in Korea: Useful Expressions and Cultural Information for Travellers

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