[Q&A] Is it normal to talk to strangers in Korea?

Is it normal and common to talk to strangers in Korea is the newest question we attempt to answer:

Anonymous asked:


I’m heading to Seoul in March and studying Korean for one month by myself, I would like to know is it common to talk to strangers in bookstores, coffee shops and make some local Korean guys friend when I’m alone? Or vice versa, will the guys talk to single woman in coffee shops or so?

Thanks a lots.

Korean stranger is it common to talk to strangers in KoreaWe’ve given a short answer directly to the writer of this question because it seemed time-sensitive for her. Since we get some version of this question often, we decided to write a longer reply and one that might be useful for everyone.

Kimchi Man and I talked about this and we are both wondering is it really common anywhere to just go around stopping random strangers and striking up conversations with them? Is it common in your country?

Regardless, people’s reactions to a stranger approaching them depend on much more than which country they are from. If you want to know how Koreans might react to you, consider this:

  • Are you in a large Korean city or small rural area? In public places, especially in large cities, people are wary of strangers. They are used to their personal space getting invaded often by pushy sellers, people with no manners, drunks and people of questionable intentions. That’s why it’s easier to approach strangers in smaller settings.
  • Which situation are you in? If you are at a bookstore and you reach for the same book it is a good opportunity to start a friendly conversation that’s not too forced. But interrupting someone who’s engrossed in their book, or seems in a hurry, might not go over so well.
  • Do you look Korean? Being an obvious foreigner might both help and hurt your efforts in approaching strangers in Korea. While some people are going to be very eager to practice their English, others might be so shy that you have to force words out of them (I’m looking at you Kimchi Man). Also the novelty of seeing a foreigner might entice them to give you some of their time.
  • Do you speak Korean? Similar as above, some people may be eager to use English but for others speaking a foreign language may seem daunting and it gets tiring after a while if you are not fluent. The writer of the question mentioned she’s been studying Korean for a month, but that is not even close to enough to be able to hold a conversation.
  • How old are you? How old are they? A guy approaching a much younger girl is probably going to make her suspect his motives. A guy approaching a girl of the same age might have a much easier time. Also, older people are generally more likely to chat with someone they don’t know.

One thing that’s specific for Korea and might be worthy to remember is to be respectful of older people, even if they are just a year older. Koreans excuse foreigners from doing it, but minding your manners in front of older people will certainly make for much smoother interactions.

Also, I can’t help but notice how the writer of this question seems only concerned about approaching and being approach by people of opposite gender. That makes me wonder if what sparked this question in the first place isn’t hearing about Korean sogeting and meeting.

Sogeting (소개팅) and meeting (미팅) are Korean versions of blind dates. This video explains it well at 4:03

Since it is common in Korea many foreigners get the impression that it is the only way to date and meet someone.

Of course it is not.

Kimchi Man and I were strangers once and no one introduced us to each other. And if you think meeting online doesn’t count, then you’d be glad to know that Kimchi Man’s best friend met his current girlfriend in a Korean gym, and they’ve been dating for a long time. Just last week while he was at the gym Kimchi Man got approached by a Korean woman who asked him out.

Hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe you should join a Korean gym? :)

– Oegukeen



You might also like:

strangers in Korea meet Is it normal to talk to strangers in Korea Oppa Sogeting or sogaeting Korean guy
[Q&A] Can I make friends in Korea? Do Korean men like older women? [Q&A] How can I approach a Korean guy?

8 thoughts on “[Q&A] Is it normal to talk to strangers in Korea?

  1. From my experience living in Korea, if you look friendly and foreign then some Koreans (guys and girls) will approach you (especially in Seoul) to chat/practice their English and make foreign friends. This happened in a variety of places from the subway to coffee shops, especially if I was by myself. This probably happens more if you look North American or European (i.e. might speak English).

    On the other hand, I generally only approached strangers if I needed help (i.e. was lost) and in every case, the Korean person was helpful and friendly.

    When I lived in a smaller city – Ulsan – I found other foreigners were more likely to chat with me randomly.

  2. I’m Korean who visit this website verrrry rarely. ))
    I am going to write my opinions on here.. it is just my opinions. dont confuse!haha
    But I think I am a very normal thinker~

    anyway Lets speake!
    “Is it normal to talk to strangers in Korea?”

    it is not common in Korea actually. Even if someone who Korean, usually they dont talk with straners. but, if someone wants to something(to ask, to help, etc.), they can talk with other people of course.
    And of course it is case by case. if they are young people, they often talk each other to have a fun in the pub or on the street.

    maybe… if someone to try to talk with you, the someone wants to ask something or to get along with you(someone might like you to be friend)

    I think almost of culture(about person to person) aren’t different haha.. we have similar thinking in the world.)

    if you might mat some strange person, the strange person also had similar thinking. the person just have uncomportable mood or unnature thinking to talk with other person who other nationalities

    P.S. I’d like to make a friend to exchange language!
    English to Korean/ Korean to English!

    but if you dont want to study Korean, doesnt matter~
    do you have anything else about Korea?
    I will help you and give you any informations

    If you interested in my writting, please contact me~on my website or email(bottom in my website, you can find it)

    Of couse you want to contact me privately and directly, I will give you my mobie number then we can use Whats App on our mobie

  3. I watched a video from ChelseaSpeak3 on YT. She said that she used facebook, searched for specific groups in Seoul and asked directly in the comment section if anyone is interested in meeting up/being friends and als she mentioned that she used meetup.com, searched for example walking groups… depending on ones interests, there are many groups activities. I think the video’s called How to Meet People in Korea: Part 2, if you like to see for yourself (◦’ں’◦)

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