How to Be Popular in Korea
Have you ever wanted to know how to be popular as a foreigner in Korea? Perhaps dressing up in cool clothes and wearing sunglasses would work, or maybe hiring a camera crew to follow you around? I wanted to find out, so during my recent trip to Korea, I asked Koreans in Seoul what they thought. You'll never expect what they replied!
Here's the question that I asked in Korean:
외국인을 보고 “이 사람 좀 멋있는데”라고 생각할 때가 언제예요?
(oe-guk-in-eul bo-go "i sa-ram jom meos-in-neun-de"ra-go saeng-gak-hal tte-ga eon-je-ye-yo?)
When have you looked at a foreigner and thought, “This person’s kind of cool”?
I received a variety of different answers, but have compiled the most common ones into this interview video. Check out the video above, and read along below (if you don't want to read spoilers, watch the video first)!
Tip #1: Be Polite
Koreans love people who are polite. If you're courteous, speak politely, and act calm and cool, then what's not to love? This was the most common answer that I received from the Koreans who I interviewed, so you can know it'll be useful.
Tip #2: Be Good looking
I couldn't stop laughing when I heard this one. But you don't have to wear a suit (if you're a guy) or put on a lot of make-up (if you're a girl) - unless of course you want to. If you're in Korea, simply dress your best, act your best, and put on your best face (smile). The more presentable you look, the better received you'll be in Korea, or in any country.
Tip #3: Speak Korean
This was another extremely important tip given by Koreans. While most Koreans can speak basic English, you're going to make more friends if you're able to speak with them in their own language. They'll feel comfortable not having to stress to remember the English they learned in school, and they'll be impressed with your interest in their country. Also, I would not have been able to film these street interviews in Korea if I couldn't speak Korean.
Learning Korean is not so difficult if you set a goal and are determined to achieve it. Perhaps your goal is basic conversation, or becoming fluent. Obviously the better you want to become, the more you will have to study, but anyone can do it. I'd encourage everyone who's thinking of traveling to Korea in the future to learn basic Korean before their trip. You'll be able to enjoy the experience 10x more and will get more out of it, even with basic knowledge of the language.
Tip #4: Be Friendly
This should be obvious, but Koreans love foreigners who are friendly, just as you love Koreans who are friendly. And don't be afraid to say hi. If you're friendly, you'll make friends, and you'll have a much better time exploring the country.
Korea is a wonderful place to visit, and there are so many things to see and do. Traveling around Korea can be an amazing and fun experience (as it has been for me). And if you're planning to visit Korea, I hope that you'll be able to prepare well before you go, and have a wonderful trip.
If you have any questions for me, you can also comment below this article.
Looking for a new drama to practice hearing Korean? Check out Unkind Women, about three generations of women learning to work together:
If you're learning Korean for the first time, check out my book here. --> Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language
And you can check out the sequel here. --> Korean Made Simple 2: The next step in learning the Korean language
Also visit my YouTube channel, where I upload videos about Korean every week. --> GO! Billy Korean on YouTube