Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hand Gestures and Using Two Hands in Korea

Something that you will probably see a lot of in Korea is people doing strange things with their second hand when giving things to people. Just like bowing, this is used as a sign of respect. When you give something or receive something from someone who is older OR more senior you should use two hands. At my school when I hand out worksheets my students always take the work sheet from me using two hands. If you are in business and are accepting/handing out a business card, always use two hands. You can find more about giving/receiving business cards here.

You have a few options here.
1) You can accept/pass the object (i.e. piece of paper) with both hands as you receive it.

2) You can accept/pass the object with just one hand and touch any part of your arm between the wrist and the elbow with your second hand.

3) You can accept/pass the object with just one hand and bring your second hand in to wrest on the side of your rib cage just below your armpit. You will look like you have stomach pains, but it is considered polite. Personally, I go with option 1 or 2. 

If you are unsure if you should use two hands, then use two hands. You will never offend someone by offering or receiving something using two hands. Worst case they might think you are a little strange.

Here is a video from EatYourKimchi on hand gestures.

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