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Korean Social Structure

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In the Confucian tradition, Koreans have lived by an ethic based on five hierarchical relationships: father-son, king-subject, husband-wife, elder-younger and friend-friend. Age is the prime determinant of how one is treated and how one treats others; of course, position is also very important and commands respect. Westerners are sometimes annoyed by the oft-asked, “How old are you?” and other seemingly intrusive questions. However, from a Korean perspective, these questions are necessary in order to establish the newcomer’s position in the hierarchy.

In some respects, relationships are vertical s opposed to the horizontal “all people are equal” relationships of the West. The vertical aspect is built into and enforced by the language, which utilizes different forms depending on whether one is speaking to an older person, a friend (same age), a colleague or a child. Only when this is understood can non-Koreans begin to understand why they often encounter questions such as “How old are you?”, “Are you married?”, “From which university did you graduate?”, “What is your position?” or “What is your husband’s position?”, “How much you do you make?” Koreans place great emphasis on their social networks, based on family, hometowns, provinces, school and university associations, and these relationships play important roles in professional and social life.

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Divorce in Korea

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How is divorce in Korea?
Divorce has become increasingly common in Korea, but it is still not the norm and divorced people, women especially, are seen as not being quite respectable. Parents are apt to refuse to let their child marry a divorced person. Divorce is relatively easy and quick to obtain if both partners agree to the split. However, should one of them object, the other must initiate a time-consuming court process that involves set waiting times. It is not uncommon also for the judge to refuse the divorce petition, especially in the case of older couples. Interestingly, it is older women who often initiate divorce proceedings in Korea.

 

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About Korean people

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The Korean people are descendants of several Mongol tribal groups who migrated around 4,000 B.C. from what are now Siberia and Manchuria. They eventually became a homogeneous race, independent of their neighbors, with unique cultural traits distinct from the Chinese and Japanese.

Two common observations about Korean people are their endurance and dynamism. Harsh weather, grueling negotiations and after-hours socializing are all taken in stride in a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture. The Korean sense of humor is readily apparent not only in daily interactions, but also in the nation’s rich folk art. Favorite songs, often sung at the end of parties or dinners, have lilting sad melodies, pointing to the strong element of melancholy contained in the Korean character. Koreans tend to vent their feelings and emotions – be it exuberance or anger, delight or frustration.

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About Korean Age

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 Koreans are considered to be one-year old at birth and, traditionally, on the next Lunar New Year, the newborn along with all other Koreans, ages one year. So if someone is born in December and Lunar New Year is in February, he/she would be one in December and then two in February. This is why you often hear Koreans respond to the “How old are you?’ question with “36 Korean-age, 35 Western-age”.

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Life Expectancy in Korea

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Until the middle of the twentieth century, life expectancy in Korea was low. Reaching your 60th birthday was a great achievement. Infant mortality was so high that celebrations and festivities attendant upon the birth of a child were not held until the hundredth day of the child’s life. Or course, medical advances have increased life expectancy and decreased infant mortality, but the traditional celebrations still continue making the 100th day and 60th year after birth the two most important birthdays in the life of a Korean, although given the improved longevity, an increasing number of people are waiting until their 70th birthday to celebrate.

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How Korean Girls Like to Be Pretty

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Every culture has a different definition of beauty. And Korea has it’s own ways of trying to look pretty. So pretty Korean girls will pay attention to somethings that you might not even care about. See what kinds of Korean beauty there are!

If you think there’s one beauty standard for all of Korea, you’re crazy. There are 50 million people in South Korea and that means there are 50 million different opinions! But with that said, Koreans do tend to pay attention to certain things more than others. So here are what Korean people (mostly women) pay attention to!

Eyes – There are two types of eyes. Ones with an extra fold in the eyelid (called 쌍꺼풀 / ssankkeopul) and ones without. Having the “double eye lid” was pretty popular in the last 10 to 20 years. But many people also believe that eyes without the “double eye lid” is prettier. It really depends on the person.

Skin Tone – A long time ago, it was a really enviable trait to have light skin tone. That’s because it meant that you stayed indoors and didn’t work outside, and that basically meant that you were of the high class. So a lot of modern Korean women still favor that. There’s sunscreen included in a lot of lotions and whitening creams are also popular products. But of course there are some women that favor darker skin tones as well; it’s just not as common.

Head Shape – There are all different types of head shapes, but many Korean people often talk about the “V-line” as being one of their favorites. “V-line” is when the face is narrower and the chin is sharper. The egg face shape is also quite popular as well. But of course this is all different according to individual taste :)

Head Size – Koreans also take notice of head size. For many Koreans, smaller = better. But there are also people that do like the opposite as well :D

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Korean name

A Korean name consists of a family name followed by a given name, as used by the Korean people in both North Korea and South Korea. In the Korean language, ‘ireum’ or ‘seong-myeong’ usually refers to the family name (seong) and given name (ireum in a narrow sense) together. There are only about 250 Korean family names currently in use, and the three most common (Kim, Lee, and Park) account for nearly half of the population.

 

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Traditional Korean names typically consist of only one syllable. There is no middle name in the Western sense. Many Koreans have their given names made of a generational name syllable and an individually distinct syllable, while this practice is declining in the younger generations. The generational name syllable is shared by siblings in North Korea, and by all members of the same generation of an extended family in South Korea. Married men and women usually keep their full personal names, and children inherit the father’s family name.
The family names are subdivided into bon-gwan (clans), i.e. extended families which originate in the lineage system used in previous historical periods. Each clan is identified by a specific place, and traces its origin to a common patrilineal ancestor.
Early names based on the Korean language were recorded in the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE – 668 CE), but with the growing adoption of the Chinese writing system, these were gradually replaced by names based on Chinese characters. During periods of Mongol influence, the ruling class supplemented their Korean names with Mongolian names. In addition, during the later period of Japanese rule in the early 20th century, Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names.
Because of the many changes in Korean romanization practices over the years, modern Koreans, when using European languages, romanize their names in various ways, most often approximating the pronunciation in English orthography. Some keep the original order of names, while others reverse the names to match the usual Western pattern.