The hierarchy and the age seen by the Koreans !


Conversations between people are defined by some very specific criteria. First of all, when you meet a Korean, he/she will have a tendency to ask your age at the beginning of your conversation.

It’s not nosiness, he’s just trying to work out his status in relation to you and a suitable level of familiarity. He will choose to speak more formally or informally, and will take the liberty of asking you for certain things, such as going to buy him something to eat, for example. This type of situation may very well occur in the workplace, or in a private circumstance.

There are other criteria that may determine one person’s status in relation to another. One of them is the social status of a person or a superior. Employees are not supposed to leave their job before their manager, because it makes them look bad.

In addition, employees regularly get together at the end of the work day to eat and drink together. This is a cultural choice that is very popular in South Korea. It’s a way to bring the people in a company closer together. These evening get-togethers are organized by the company head, or the team manager if it’s a large company, and therefore attendance is strongly recommended.

Although these events may seem to be pure relaxation, you should know that it is important to participate, because if you don’t, you may find yourself rejected by the rest of the group. Obviously, not all business leaders work this way with their employees.

Therefore, this cultural aspect is taught to children starting at an early age. They’re introduced to this idea in their first year of school. In Korean culture, a person who is older than you will always be right. You can’t fight this, or you’ll suffer being reprimanded by others. So you’ll always have a junior/senior relationship with whomever you talk to.

There’s another behavior that you should follow in the presence of your elders. To start with, when an older person offers you to share a meal with him, let him sit first and wait for him to invite you to drink and eat.

These relationships between Koreans may sometimes not be understood by a stranger. They do not expect you to know their culture. However, respect elders even though some of them won’t hesitate to take advantage of their privileges.