Korean Business Manners and Popular Entertainment Methods to Avoid Failure in Entertaining Koreans

Mayumi Folio
Mayumi Folio

When an important business partner from neighboring Korea comes to Japan, you want to plan an entertainment that will please them.

Because of the proximity of Korea, Japan’s neighbor country, there are differences in manners and customs that are of concern, and it is very important to know them in business.

In this issue, we will introduce the basic knowledge you need to know about the manners you should be concerned about when doing business with Koreans.

We will also guide you on the best way to entertain Koreans, so if you have decided to entertain Koreans, this is the information you need to know.

Please refer to this article to plan a very successful Korean entertainment.

Business Manners in Korea

In Korea, Confucianism is prevalent, so people respect superiors and older people, and family and blood relatives are very important.

So it is important to know its impact in business etiquette.

Here we focus on the most important Korean business manners.

Greetings and handshakes

Greetings in Korea are primarily a bow and a handshake.

Bowing is the norm for older people, but these days a handshake seems to have become a common manner of greeting.

In Korea, a Confucian nation, people may be asked their age at the first meeting.

This is due to the background that language and attitude must be changed in the case of older people.

So don’t worry about being asked out of the blue and answer accurately.

Then, shaking hands is the Korean way of greeting. At this time, the superior person offers his/her hand first.

Refrain from offering your hand first to women and superiors. It is customary for women to offer their hand first to all but superiors.

Shake hands with the right hand. When shaking hands with a person of higher rank or seniority, hold the left hand slightly above the elbow of the right hand, or place the left hand on the chest area.

It is elegant to remember to put your left hand on your chest, as it is also good manners when bowing to a superior or older person.

Do not confuse the grip with a hard, strong grip as Americans do, but rather a gentle grip, which is the manner of the American people.

See also: ” Customs and Manners ” on the Korean Anything Information Site (viewed on May 10, 2023).

exchange of business cards

In the Korean business scene, as in Japan, exchanging business cards is very important.

So, if you have a reception or social gathering with Koreans, be sure to have more business cards ready.

After exchanging business cards, be sure to check and remember your job title and the reading of your name so that you do not make a mistake later on.

It is important to note that many Korean names, even when written in Chinese characters, have readings and pronunciations that are difficult for Japanese people.

If you ask at the time of the exchange, it is simple and not rude.

In addition, although e-mail is the mainstream method of communication, the Korean SNS “kakaotalk,” like the mainstream Japanese SNS “LINE,” has become a mainstream tool.

It is also used for business like “LINE” in Japan, so it would be kind to the other party if you create an account and mention it on your business card.

kakaotalk :https://www.kakaotalk.jp

hierarchical relationship

In Korea, hierarchical relationships are very strict, so it is customary to always confirm your position.

Be sure to make no mistake about the position up or down, as this is a very important point in doing business with Koreans.

When calling someone, always add “nim” (任).

It is important because “Nim” is the Japanese word for “Sama”. So, when you call someone, you should address them as [title + 任] or [surname + title + 任].

It will be smoother if you confirm your position when exchanging business cards.

culture of hospitality

In Korea, it is said that even if a project or proposal is superior to others, it is often turned down because the current one is a closer relationship.

Trust is very important in business with Koreans, and entertainment dinners and banquets are frequently held to build this trust.

Therefore, the culture of entertainment is more important than in Japan, so it is necessary to plan entertainment without rudeness.

A rude attitude seems to be particularly important in terms of manners and demeanor toward superiors based on the nature of the entertainment.

Points to keep in mind when entertaining Koreans

Here we introduce the business manners of Korean people in the business entertainment scene.

So what are the actual points to keep in mind when entertaining Koreans?


dining manners

Korea is Japan’s neighbor, but there are often scenes that often surprise both sides when it comes to dining etiquette.

For example, when eating on the floor of a Korean tatami room, it is considered polite for women to kneel on their knees and for men to sit cross-legged.

While women’s kneeling posture is not seen as a common sight nowadays in skirts, men’s kneeling posture is considered a natural posture for eating.

Another typical example of something that is the exact opposite of Japanese manners is eating with a bowl or small plate in one’s hands.
As Japanese, we always eat with our hands, which is considered good manners, so it feels strange for both parties.

Also, if your superior begins to eat, you may eat as well, and if your superior finishes eating, you should stop eating, even if you are never in the middle of a meal. Leaving food behind is not a breach of etiquette.

Manners for Drinking

In Korea, where hierarchical relationships are strictly enforced, rules regarding alcohol and cigarettes also vary depending on the relationship between superiors and subordinates.

For example, when drinking alcohol with elders, those of lower rank or younger should turn to the side and cover their mouth with their left hand to avoid being seen drinking.

When pouring alcohol for a superior, hold your left hand there on the bottle, at the elbow of your right hand, or on your chest. When pouring alcohol for a superior, hold the cup with your right hand and put your left hand on the cup.

Unlike in Japan, it is not considered acceptable for a woman to pour a man a drink unnecessarily, although this has become less sensible in recent years.

When toasting, the glasses should be at different heights, starting with the person of higher rank or seniority. Those of lower rank should toast at the lowest position of the overlapping glasses. By the way, the Korean word for toast is “Cheers (konpae).

Thus, Confucianism is still strongly taught at the drinking table, so try to match your manners to the Korean style.

Recommended reference article: How do foreigners see Japanese manners? Japanese Etiquette and Customs for Foreigners

(See: KONEST Korea Begins, Korea Spreads. (Korea ‘s Drinking Culture, viewed on May 10, 2023)

How to choose a restaurant

When you entertain Koreans in Japan, you probably have many dinners.

The most popular Japanese food among Koreans is still meat dishes, such as high-end pork cutlet dishes, kushiyaki (skewered meat) and yakitori (grilled chicken).

And, not surprisingly, sukiyaki is also popular as a way to enjoy Japanese meat dishes. The way of eating and seasoning are completely different, which makes it a popular topic of conversation.

And we recommend high-end sukiyaki restaurants, many of which have private rooms such as tatami rooms.

They think it is more luxurious to have many dishes served than to have a small amount of food served a little at a time, as in kaiseki cuisine.

Therefore, Izakaya is a popular favorite spot for Korean tourists and a good place to set up for entertaining dinners and drinking parties.

High-class izakaya have private rooms and a wide variety of food and drinks, so they are recommended for dinner receptions.

Note that, as with the Chinese, splitting the bill is not allowed.

Recommended Related Articles: 17 Restaurants and Izakayas in Tokyo Recommended for Entertaining Foreigners

See: Seoul Mate Korean Language School, ” Introducing the Top 5 Most Popular Japanese Foods in Korea ” (viewed on May 10, 2023).

What is the best way to entertain Koreans?

Here are some recommendations for entertaining Koreans.

We will guide you through specific methods of entertainment, as well as ideas on how to entertain Korean visitors to Japan with Japanese cultural experiences that are appropriate for entertaining Korean visitors to Japan.

dining entertainment

Eating together is considered very important when doing business with Koreans.

Entertainment dinners are held as frequently as in Japan for the purpose of deepening friendship.

Trust is often more important to Korean companies than the novelty of planning. To build a closer relationship, plan your business dinners well.

Therefore, dinner entertainment is necessary to organize entertainment at dinners and banquets actively with many parties involved in order to facilitate business with Koreans.

In such cases, manners in entertaining are very important, so it is very important not to be vague just because you are Japanese, but to behave in a manner that is respectful to your superiors.

In addition, guests may have requests for Korean entertainment, so be flexible.

(See also: Korea World Times, ” Chinese Korean Managers Discuss Differences in Perceptions of Money, Credit, and Hospitality between Koreans and Japanese,” viewed May 10, 2023.)


Korea, like Japan, has a strong souvenir culture.

As a sign of closeness, there is also the custom of hand-me-downs and gifts for the purpose of furthering friendship.

Korea is a nation that values family, so giving a gift to the recipient’s family is very much appreciated.

When giving souvenirs to groups or within the company, always change the items between supervisors and subordinates.

Even when you give a lot of cookies, etc., to share, the gift for your boss is a little more prestigious.

This gift tends to make a more positive impression by emphasizing hierarchical and familial relationships.

Japanese cultural experience in entertaining Koreans

Although this is especially true of the elderly, the reality is that many people in Korea still harbor anti-Japanese sentiment due to the effects of World War II.

On the other hand, since the announcement of the “Japanese Popular Culture Lifting Policy” in 1998, there has been a trend toward enjoying mainly Japanese pop culture, especially among the younger generation.

Therefore, entertainment that fully embraces traditional Japanese culture with the same feeling as entertainment for other foreigners tends not to be well received.

However, if you are entertaining Korean visitors to Japan, they tend to appreciate the Japanese cultural experience.

Some cultures are common between Japan and Korea, and some Japanese cultural experiences are relatively new, so check with your destination to plan accordingly.

Below are five recommended Japanese cultural experiences for entertaining Koreans.

See: Visit Japan Lab, ” Characteristics of Korean tourists visiting Japan ” (viewed May 10, 2023).

Newsweek, ” Anti-Japan and Japan-loving South Korea increasingly polarized ” (viewed May 10, 2023).

Wikipedia, ” Restrictions on the influx of Japanese popular culture in South Korea ” (viewed May 10, 2023).

Calligraphy Performance

The Japanese cultural experience in calligraphy, which also exists in Korea, can be a cultural treat for the entire Asian region.

Of course there is calligraphy in Korea, and there are also Chinese characters.

Therefore, using calligraphy as a key word allows mutual respect and familiarity with each other’s culture, and it is recommended to plan a calligraphy performance at a celebration or get-together.

Having a calligrapher write with full force on a gold folding screen or on a large sheet of Japanese paper letters that express the prospects and wishes for each other’s future business will create a greater sense of intimacy.

Japanese culture, but also an important Asian culture of letters. If you take the time to savor them together, you will be treated to a sense of hospitality that will bring you closer to each other.

Recommended reading: Experience Japanese culture through calligraphy! Which kanji performance is popular among foreigners?


Taekwondo is the national sport of Korea, originating from the ancient martial arts of the Korean peninsula, Chinese martial arts, and the Japanese Shotokan style of karate.

Karate is very similar to Korean Tae Kwon Do, so it is possible to enjoy karate as if you are sharing each other’s culture.

Martial arts entertainment, like golf entertainment, is an aspect of deepening friendship while exercising the body together.

Since we want to share Japanese and Korean culture with each other, we would like to deepen our friendship! We recommend this as an idea for entertainment when you want to share Japanese and Korean culture with each other and deepen your friendship.

Recommended Related Articles: [Why Karate is Popular among Foreigners] A Team Building Example of Japanese Spirit

Reference: Official Olympic website, ” Origins of Taekwondo Competitions|Martial Arts Originating in Korea ” (reference May 10, 2023).

Japanese whisky

It is said that Japanese whiskey has been gaining popularity around the world for the past 20 years.

Whiskey is not an ancient Japanese culture, as it was originally a Western liquor culture.

Therefore, it can be said that this is a Japanese cultural experience that older Koreans will also enjoy.

The authentic bar with a slow and relaxed atmosphere will be reserved for you to enjoy the finest Japanese whisky.

Such hospitality with “new” Japanese culture is recommended for elderly Koreans.

Recommended reading: Japanese Whisky Experience and Differences in Alcoholic Beverage Culture

hot spring

Since Korea also has a culture of public baths and hot springs, we recommend this as a Japanese cultural experience that Koreans can easily relate to.

Taking a bath in a hot spring to deepen friendship is a natural way to entertain guests because Japan and Korea share a similar bath culture.

The hospitality of Japanese onsen ryokan is especially popular and well received by Koreans.

However, it would be nice if we could explain in advance the manners in public baths and hot springs, as they are different everywhere.

See also: All you need to know to enjoy Korean public bathhouses 120% Author Yujin Kim (viewed on May 10, 2023)

Chunichi Shimbun The Charms of Korea I Want to Know More About Author Mi-Hui Park(Date viewed May 10, 2023)

Tourist information reception

We recommend that business visitors to Japan be entertained with sightseeing information.

Touring Tokyo’s famous sites together increases mutual intimacy, and the appeal of this event is that it allows people to enjoy the place that is Tokyo.

It is also a very good way to deepen friendship because you can experience the similarities and differences between Korea and Japan together.

Recommended reading: Tokyo Sightseeing for Entertaining Foreigners! Recommended Spots by Area


Korea is a neighbor of Japan and has many cultures in common, but there are still differences in culture and customs.

The key to be careful and attentive when entertaining Koreans is still the importance of hierarchical relationships and building trust.

Manners for entertaining are especially important, and we recommend that you check them out well in advance.

Let’s plan a great reception and develop into a good partner, respecting the cultures and customs that are important to both parties!