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Korean Entertaining Etiquette

Korean Entertaining Etiquette

Koreans approach play in the same way they do work – at full throttle. There is no such thing as ‘going Dutch’ in Korea. Only one person will pay the bill when two or more people go out. When a supervisor is drinking or dining with subordinates, he or she must be especially sensitive to this custom because it dictates that he/she make the most strenuous effort to get to the cashier first and pay the bill. While the others will put up the most convincing fight and argument, always insist that this time, it’s your treat and they can do the honors next time. Often, the younger subordinates insist on going to a coffee shop immediately after a big costly meal paid for by you. This gives them the chance to repay the obligation by paying for the coffee, which might be in a more affordable range for them.

Korea is home to a heavy drinking culture and this culture can cross into the business field. The expatriate businessperson in Korea will inevitably encounter a situation where alcohol is served, whether it is at a bar or at a meal with Koran associates. The traditional Korean rule is that you never fill your own glass. If the bottle is on the table, always fill up the other person’s glass when it is empty, especially if he/she is older or higher in status than you. Never fill the glass if it is partially filled. If someone empties his glass and passes it to you, hold it up with two hands to be filled. Don’t hold onto another person’s glass too long; return it promptly. If you area light drinker, are unsure of the potency of the alcohol being served or prefer to enjoy the evening with a clear mind, just keep your glass half full.

Eating and drinking are an important part of Korean business dealing. There are certainly fine lines that can be drawn, and one needs to think ahead about how to maintain normal family life and still comply with some of the customs of doing business in Korea.

K4E Editor: Korea4Expats.com tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at info@korea4expats.com.


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