I’m Korean-American and grew up often visiting family in Seoul. Later in life, I spent a year working on Jeju Island. In my experiences traveling back and forth from the motherland, I’ve faced various cultural differences both when visiting Korea and adjusting back to the States. These differences include how people dress.
Korea has four distinct seasons as well as a monsoon season (around June-September). I would recommend looking up average temperatures for the time of year you’re planning to go because the proper attire can affect your experience. Born and raised in California, we were in a drought for years and my hometown ranges between 50’s-mid 70’s year round so I never checked the weather until I moved to Korea. If this isn’t already a practice, trust me, it’s worth it to at least be aware of what you might face weather-wise. For the summer goers, good luck–hot, humid, and rain is a weird combination, but if you’re already familiar with it, awesome.
In addition to that, Korea is all about the trends–clothes, make up, hair cuts, glasses frames, even food and slang are constantly changing with the ebb and flow of the trend, but there are some general themes that can be helpful.
Generally, people are well dressed, more so than the average American. Whereas in the States it may be acceptable to run to the store in sweatpants and a t-shirt, you will rarely, if ever, see that in Korea.
Modesty in Korea is defined differently than the States. Generally, short shorts or short skirts are more acceptable but low cut shirts or even showing shoulders are not as common.
Koreans care a lot about their skin so skin products are always highly sought after. Beauty in Korea means being thin with fair, dewy skin. You can find all kinds of products from cleansers, toners, essence, moisturizers, facial sunscreen, and the beloved sheet masks to name a few. There isn’t as much diversity in Korea and because of that, once a trend hits, you will see it everywhere. People may wear different items but look the same.
Something that is also common is visiting the skin doctor and plastic surgery. You’ll most likely see advertisement for these as you’re walking around and in the subways.
Seoul has a great public transportation system so if you are from the States, you will probably be walking a lot more than the average American. With that in mind, comfortable (but stylish) walking shoes are recommended. As a tourist, you may not run into this but Koreans take their shoes off at the door when going into someone’s home. Occasionally, there may be restaurants that have you take off your shoes, but there will usually be cubbies or some other indicator that will let you know. Be aware that at those restaurants, you may be sitting on the ground.
All About The Trends
I would recommend looking up the latest trends before you go and even watching recent shows or dramas can give you hints as to what people are wearing, especially because trends can range from blazers and sneakers to neon and bucket hats. It’s hard to nail down a step-by-step guide of what to wear, but hopefully this gives you some helpful insight. And who knows, you may come across a trend in Korea that hasn’t hit the States yet and be ahead of the game #trendsetter.
Anyone who meets Audrey can see that she has a peaceful countenance and a sweet soul. Get to know her a little more and you’ll discover the fire in her spirit. Audrey had her life planned out before DTS. After five months committed to growing with God, she found more life than she had ever dreamed was possible. She embodies what it means to find fulfillment and satisfaction in the Lord. Her love for culture, adventure, and travel has taken her to university, a job in Korea, surfing in the Pacific, and right here to Louisville. When Audrey commits to something, she’s all in. Her depth and personality add a unique richness to our family.