My Culture Shock from South Korean Culture

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 440 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Sep 19, 2019

Words: 440|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Sep 19, 2019

Culture shock is when a person involves themselves with another culture and comes into contact with their way of living and sees that every culture does things differently and can perhaps leave with a different mentality after that experience. Ethnocentrism is when someone takes what they are familiar with from their own culture and use it to some extent to make judgments on another culture, particularly negative ones. Cultural relativism is when someone does not judge another culture but rather tries to understand it.

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In this essay I’ll discuss South Korean culture – a culture that has always been intriguing to me, personally. In South Korea, the people here value hard work more than anything and believe that anything can be achieved as long as faith, determination, and strength are kept within the person. The country, alike others, have developed their own customs and etiquettes over time.

Their main way of greeting someone is bowing, and this is usually done with the motion of the person’s head bowing down, acknowledging those in front of them, especially those of high authority. This bow to the person is also a form of respect being shown to each other. In this instance, I experienced a sense of cultural relativism because I was confused at first as to why they are expected to bow to everyone, and who in particular are they supposed to bow to. Once I realized why they do it or who they bow to, it made sense to me. It showed me that this is their way of being respectful towards everyone. Another custom particularly interesting is how the South Koreans are a year ahead in their age. Everyone is automatically a year old the day they were born. Ethnocentrism is applied to my experience of discovering this because I believed it to be something quite out of this world.

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I have never heard of something such as this where someone would basically be considered a year older than their Western age, and have it be considered a norm in their culture. It is quite odd how the Korean age system works. Lastly, I experienced culture shock when I discovered that there is a lack of diversity, in this case, cultural diversity. South Korea is known to be racially pure, and this is because of a political ideology known as the Korean ethnic nationalism. Being from California, I grew up seeing so much diversity and people from all over the world like to come to this particular state. So I am rather used to the diverse atmosphere, and seeing that the South Koreans barely have any cultural diversity did shock me.

Works Cited

  1. Chang, T. (2018). Why Korean work ethic is so strong. The Korean Herald.
  2. Chung, S. K. (2011). Understanding cultural relativism in a multicultural world. Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, Perspective, 5(1), 25-38.
  3. Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Ethnocentrism.
  4. Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior. Pantheon Books.
  5. Kim, S. Y., & Oh, K. (2018). Cultural differences in bowing frequency and duration between Korean and Japanese. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 42(3), 301-315.
  6. Lee, S. (2019). South Korea: The racism that cannot be spoken. Al Jazeera.
  7. Lee, Y. (2018). The impact of Confucianism on interpersonal relationships and communication patterns in East Asia. International Journal of Communication, 12, 24.
  8. Park, H. (2018). South Korea's unique age-calculating system. BBC News.
  9. Stewart, E. C., & Bennett, M. J. (1991). American cultural patterns: A cross-cultural perspective. Intercultural Press.
  10. Wolff, E. (2020). Cultural shock: Adjustment to new cultural environments. In M. H. Bornstein, M. E. Arterberry, K. L. Fingerman, & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development (pp. 666-670). SAGE Publications.
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Cite this Essay

South Korean Culture. (2019, August 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“South Korean Culture.” GradesFixer, 27 Aug. 2019,
South Korean Culture. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jun. 2024].
South Korean Culture [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Aug 27 [cited 2024 Jun 19]. Available from:
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