Every country has its own customs and cultural traditions. Acts that are not considered impolite in some regions of the world can be surprising and even offensive in others. To help athletes enjoy the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 to the fullest, here is Athlete365’s brief guide to good manners in the Republic of Korea…
Respect the locals
During your time at the Games, you will meet and interact with many of the PyeongChang locals, particularly those working or volunteering on-site. Remember that the most common way to greet, say farewell and thank someone is to bow slightly.
If you’re taking a break from competition to enjoy some downtime, bear in mind that it is customary to remove shoes at the entrance of Korean homes as well as in most traditional restaurants. A space is often arranged to store your shoes too. Wear your best socks!
Show table manners
You will find chopsticks and a spoon on almost all Korean tables, and in the dining halls at the Olympic Villages. The spoon is used to eat rice and soup, while the chopsticks are mostly used in different dishes in front of you. You should not stick your chopsticks in your rice; the gesture recalls the sticks of incense in funerary rites.
It’s also considered polite to wait for the oldest person at the table to start eating before tucking in yourself. This respect for older people can be found everywhere in Korean culture.
Travel without fuss
If you’re travelling by bus or subway, you will soon discover that seats are reserved for pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled. The signs for these seats are easily recognisable; you should avoid sitting here, even if the bus or carriage is empty.
Although there may be plenty of sporting stories to share with your family, friends and fellow athletes, try to keep your voice to a reasonable volume on public transport, so as not to disturb other travellers.
You can also expect to be slightly pushed or jostled on a busy day. Don’t worry – it’s not considered rude to give some back!
Take both hands
Manual dexterity is a highly valuable skill for many winter athletes – be it the deft touch of the curler or the pinpoint accuracy of the biathlete – and the use of hands plays an equally important role in Korean society.
It’s worth noting that taking or giving money with both hands in the Republic of Korea is a sign of respect, and for the entrepreneurs among you, the same applies for business cards.
Pointing at a person with your finger is impolite, as the gesture is reserved for objects and animals. Use an open hand for the gesture instead. If you want to signal someone to come to you, point your palm to the ground and bring your fingers towards you. Doing the gesture with your hand pointing to the sky is either intended for animals or a signal to fight – a situation you do not want to find yourself in the night befor