Korean culture is one of the fascinating Asian cultures and is more incredible when you get the chance to personally experience it. While the Learn Korean Today website focuses on helping those interested in speaking Korean, we also believe it is important to understand the roots and heritage of the Korean people.
Perhaps you have a Korean town in your local neighborhood, or maybe you plan to visit ‘The Land of the Calm’, as some know it.
Regardless of where you are in the world, it is possible to see first hand what this lovely culture is all about. We have listed South Korean culture and traditions in detail below, including the historical Changdeokgung palace and other Korean heritage sites, traditional art forms, cuisine, living establishments, clothing and of course key festivals.
The traditional arts of Korea are made up of dance, crafts, paintings and ceramics.
The two most common dances are court dances or native dances performed at banquets, known as jeongjaemu (정재무), and ilmu (일무), usually seen at Korean rituals as a civil or military dance. Both forms of dances can be seen in comtemporary productions where the genga is the traditional attire.
Handicrafts of unique designs using earthenware, lacquerware, wood, metal, and fabrid are produced all the time in Korea.
Glass, copper, brass, and zinc have also been introduced as one of the main materials used. Some of these crafts include ancient patterned pottery and ornaments that tie close to Chinese culture and greatly influenced by Japanese ceramics dating back to the 16th Century.
Many paintings are of prehistoric times and involve a series of calligraphy techniques influenced by realism and tradition. Such paintings can be beautiful images of realistic landscapes and nature, including birds, flowers, and plants. Typically, ink is painted on silk or mulberry paper.
Lifestyle: Homes, Clothing, Cuisine
Korean culture involves a certain lifestyle which is quite unique, from the homes, to the gardens, clothing and of course cuisine.
Geomancy, where a house should get much of its sunlight by building it against a hill facing in the south direction, is still a preferred orientation in modern Korea. Furthermore, it has great influence on the building’s shape and material used to build it. Usually buildings are made of clay, wood, stone, thatch, and tile. Most Koreans today live in modernized homes and apartments.
The hanbok (한복, 韓服), which is an ancient attire consisting of a colorful shirt, skirt, and sometimes hat, is Korean traditional dress. The hanbok is worn on special formal occasions such as a birthday, wedding or funeral, and occasionally seen on the elderly and aristocratic families dating back from the Joseon Dynasty.
Meat consumption is also vaste in Korea. Rice cakes are traditional foods for ceremonies Korean cuisine often uses garlic, ginger, and spring onion as ingredients.
Sambbap, bibimbap, and bulgogi are some of the many traditional Korean dishes. Korean tea is also a favorite.
The lunisolar calendar forms the traditional Korean calendar, another unique aspect to Korean culture and customs. It is divided into twenty-four turning points, called jeolgi (절기), lasting about 15 days each.
Seollal is the traditional Korean New Year and deemed as the largest Korean festival. Chuseok is the harvest festivel, somewhat like a Thanksgiving holiday and the Dano is Korea’s spring festival.
World Heritage Sites
There are a number of Korean world heritage sites and we have listed a few that you may be interested in learning more about:
- Jongmyo Shrine
- Gyeongju Area
- Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
- Tripitaka Koreana and Haeinsa
We hope you enjoyed this post on Korean culture and encourage you to experience some of the above-mentioned traditions and customs if and when you get the opportunity.
Korean Traditional Music – Youtube Video
KLCC: Korean language and culture – http://klcc.korea.ac.kr/about/about01_eng.html
traditional Korean music – http://www.angelfire.com/alt/koreanmusic/index.html