Koreans are a people of the Mongoloid race, which number up to 30% of the world’s population. About 7 million Koreans live in China, Japan and the United States, the bulk, about 77 million, in North and South Korea. And although the political and social structure of these two states is radically different today, the ancient culture and traditions of the Korean people have remained practically unchanged.
Features of the national culture
The main religions of the Korean people are Buddhism, Christianity, shamanism. The ethical and philosophical doctrine of Confucianism, followed by many Koreans, can also be viewed as a religion.
The Korean surname usually consists of one syllable, the most common variants are Kim, Im, Lee, Pak, Choi, Chan. When women marry, they do not change their surname, but the children bear the surname of their father.
The cultural traditions of Korea include a number of specific rules of social behavior, the main ones of which are:
- Restraint and laconic communication. It is not customary to speak loudly and gesticulate with temperament in Korea.
- Inadmissibility of public display of feelings – on the streets of Korea you will not see couples kissing, this behavior is considered indecent.
- The importance of age and social status. Those who are younger in age or who have a more modest social position are obliged to respectfully treat and obey their elders unquestioningly.
- When entering a Korean house, it is customary to take off your shoes as a sign of respect for the owners.
The unusual traditions of Koreans include:
- Double birthday celebration. In addition to the date of birth, Koreans celebrate a collective birthday – Seollal. This happens on the lunar New Year. It is believed that on this day everyone becomes a year older.
- Celebrating the 61st anniversary. The date of completion of the 60-year life cycle for Koreans is considered a jubilee. All close and distant relatives gather to honor the birthday man.
- An annual celebration of deceased ancestors. According to Buddhist belief, the soul of the deceased remains with the descendants. The one who has passed away for four generations is considered a member of the family; a special ceremony is held in his honor on the Lunar New Year.
- “Women’s” Valentine’s Day. On this day, only women make gifts to loved ones, it is customary to give chocolate, moreover, of their own preparation. Such a weird Korean tradition ultimately led to the fact that most of the girls are real professionals in the preparation of this delicacy.
- Interpretation of some gestures. Wanting to call a person to you, in Korea you need to put your palm down and move your fingers. With a generally accepted gesture in Europe, Koreans call only animals by opening their hand with the palm up.
The traditional Korean house is called a hanok, it consists of several multifunctional rooms, each of which simultaneously serves as a dining room, study, and bedroom. Koreans eat sitting on the floor, so they put a mattress in the room and put a low table during the meal. Home floors are usually air or water heated. When planning future housing, a place is selected where a person can comfortably coexist next to nature, and a ventilated terrace is usually attached to the house.
Most public holidays in Korea are public holidays. National holidays are:
- New Year. It is celebrated twice – on January 1 according to the Gregorian, and at the end of January or mid-February according to the lunisolar calendar, the Koreans call this holiday Seollal, it is considered more important.
- Independence Day (March 1). On this day in 1919, the Declaration of Independence of Korea was adopted.
- Children Protection Day (5 May). It has acquired the status of a public holiday since 1970.
- Buddha’s birthday (the 6th of May). Celebrated on the eighth of the fourth lunar month. Koreans visit temples, festive processions with lotus-shaped lanterns are held in cities.
- Liberation Day of Korea (August 15). Date of the country’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
- Chuseok. Harvest festival and day of remembrance of ancestors. Celebrated throughout the Korean Peninsula in the middle of the 8th lunar month.
Many of Korea’s family traditions and customs have survived from the time of Confucianism, which requires strict adherence to the dead, sacrifice, and submission to social norms. Thus, the traditional Korean family includes representatives of 3-4 generations, where the subordination of the younger to the elders is strictly observed. According to the old customs, when dividing property, preference was given to the eldest son; at present, sons and daughters are legally equal in rights.
In connection with the industrialization that took place in the middle of the last century and the subsequent increase in the urban population in the country, propaganda was carried out to reduce the birth rate. As a result, today in a Korean family, as a rule, there are 1-2 children, many young families prefer to live separately from their parents.
Koreans believe that marriage should be for life, and divorce is treated as a shameful phenomenon. Marriage in Korea, as in many other countries, is preceded by matchmaking and engagement. During the engagement, the groom’s representatives demonstrate his financial capabilities to the bride’s parents.
The wedding ceremony in Korea is usually held in special ritual halls – “yesikjan”. There is an official representative of the registry office, and at the request of the future spouses, also a priest who conducts the wedding ceremony.
Weddings in families, where national traditions are observed, include two different ceremonies: in the European style and in the national style. The first is usually held in a restaurant. The outfits of the bride and groom are a white dress and a classic black suit or tailcoat.
After a not too long feast, the newlyweds leave the guests. After dressing up in hanbok (national costumes made of bright one-color fabrics), they move to a separate room. There are low tables where you can eat while sitting, served according to old traditions: wedding chicken, tteok rice cakes and sweets.
Korean weddings are very crowded, with the number of guests usually reaching several hundred. As gifts to newlyweds, it is customary to hand envelopes with money, and each envelope must indicate the name of the donor so that the young can appreciate the generosity of one or another guest.
Birth and upbringing of children
After the birth of a child, he undergoes a baptism ceremony in a church. Unlike European practice, baptismal water is not added to the baptismal font, but blessed oil, and the baby is immersed in it completely, with his head.
More significant than the baptismal ceremony among Koreans is considered the first anniversary of a child’s life, which symbolizes his acceptance into the community. On this day, the baby is seated at a table where various objects are laid out. There is a belief that the three objects that the baby picks up will determine his future life preferences.
The upbringing of children in Korea, as well as in Japan, is based on permissiveness in the “nursery” age and increased exactingness after the child reaches 5-7 years of age. Koreans protect young children in every possible way and try to provide them with the most comfortable conditions: 80% of Korean women leave work after the birth of a child and devote themselves to motherhood. When a child reaches school age, parents focus on instilling in him the qualities necessary for a successful career: hard work, responsibility, perseverance in achieving the set goal.
According to Korean traditions, the body of the deceased is washed with water and incense, then they dress him in the best clothes, put some rice in his mouth, and several coins next to the body. Korean law prohibits burial within 24 hours after death, the funeral is usually held on the third day so that relatives, friends and acquaintances can say goodbye to the deceased.
Buried in Korea in public or family cemeteries, the body of the deceased can be interred or cremated. A memorial dinner is held on the day of the funeral, the next day, on the anniversary of death, and 2 years later.
Gastronomic preferences of Koreans are rather undemanding, rice, vegetables and seafood are traditional products in the diet, meat is used in smaller quantities. A characteristic feature of Korean cuisine is the high degree of pungency of all dishes due to the abundance of hot spices in them. There is no clear division into first and second courses in Korea, often rice with vegetables, depending on the situation, serves as the first and second.
TOP 10 most popular Korean dishes:
- Donde sound. Thick soup made from fillets of cod fish haddock and daikon radish, cooked in fish broth (another type of fish is used to obtain broth – hamsu).
- Kadan. Spicy dog meat soup with rice and herbs.
- Kimchi. Peking cabbage and carrot appetizer cooked with garlic, hot peppers and fish sauce.
- Kimpab. Rolls of rice, beef, pickled daikon, cucumber and noria.
- Chicken in sweet and sour sauce. Prepared with bell peppers, tomatoes and pineapple, soy sauce is usually used. Served with rice.
- Omuk. Small long cutlets on a stick made from white fish fillets, squid and shrimps.
- Tokpokki. The main ingredient of the dish is small sausage sticks made from rice flour – tteok. They are stewed with meat, vegetables or seafood and served with hot sauce.
- Bibimbab. Boiled rice seasoned with hot pepper, on top of which vegetables and meat are laid out. The ingredients are mixed when serving.
- Kanjong. This is the Korean version of the European “brushwood” dessert. Knead the dough from the glutinous rice flour, give the products the desired shape and dry. Then the cookies are deep-fried, greased with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
- Zhongwa… Fruit canned in honey. For the preparation of this dessert, they use yucha (a hybrid of lemon and tangerine), quince or apricot.