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Korea - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Culture & Customs Paperback – September 5, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Culture Smart! has come to the rescue of hapless travellers, Sunday Times Travel - ...the perfect introduction to the weird, wonderful and downright odd quirks and customs of various countries, Global Travel - ...full of fascinating, as well as common sense, tips to help you avoid embarrassing faux pas, Observer - ...as useful as they are entertaining, Easy Jet Magazine - ...offer glimpses into the psyche of a faraway world, New York Times.

About the Author

JAMES HOARE spent over thirty years in the British Diplomatic Service, with postings to Seoul and Beijing. His last job was Chargé D’Affaires in Pyongyang, North Korea, where he established the first-ever British Embassy. He has written numerous books and articles about East Asia, including Embassies in the East: The Story of the British and Their Embassies in China, Japan and Korea from 1859 to the Present (1999), and, with his wife, Susan Pares, Conflict in Korea: An Encyclopedia (1999).
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Product Details

  • Series: Culture Smart!
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Kuperard; Reprinted edition edition (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857333659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857333657
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.5 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By M. Smith on December 7, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For being so small, this little book is the best book on Korean culture I have read in a long time. It contains so much, so quickly that I read it twice in just one week. It provides an insight not just as a traveler, but as someone who interacts with Koreans. It provides bits of knowledge, trivia, and tips that is well worth the modest cover price. There are several "crash course" books like this, and take it from someone who owns them all practically, this one is the by far the best.

Seeing as how it is designed as an overview, you get more than your money's worth (less than ten bucks including shipping on [...]). Want to give a friend something to read on the airplane ride over before they meet you in Korea? This book fits the bill quite nicely.

I'm honestly surprised that this book gets over-shadowed by the "Lonely Planet" series. Ignore the hype and pick up this book.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Brooke on October 20, 2010
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I can't believe all the good reviews on this book. I recently moved to Korea from the US. I read this entire book and it really was a waste of my time.

South Koreans have progressed quite a bit since this book was first printed and I don't think the reprint really did too much editing. There are a lot of things that are inaccurate or over exaggerated. For instance flip flops, Koreans wear these very often and don't make comments to others who wear them. Drinking in groups of both men and women, again this happens quite often and doesn't seem to be a strange occurrence. The author also laments the fact that most of the deciduous forest have been wiped out. I'm not sure what country he visited, but all the hills around as far as the eye can see are covered in trees. Not reforested but native to the country. I'm not sure if he never left Seoul, but it might behove them to remove this particular comments as it doesn't apply.

Also bothersome was the Author's story about interfering in a domestic dispute. He contends that he should have just minded his own business and not tried to interfere. After all that is the country's culture and really who was he to intervene. So typical of an academic, care more about the keeping things pristine and allowing "nature" to flow than consider assisting another human being. His theory is flawed though. In the story he is obviously older than the instigator, as such, according to the culture, he had every right to intervene and attempt to assist as he is an elder and it is an age defined hierarchy. Just imagine if it was your daughter who was involved in such a situation, do you think the author is providing good advice in stating that we should just leave things alone, even if we know that another human being is possibly getting hurt?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Omoni on August 13, 2008
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Daughter headed to Korea for a year and I purchased this book for her. Small and concise and full of great information on customs, traditions, do's and don't's for those unfamiliar with the Korean culture. Very informative yet small enough to tote aound and read whenever there were a few minutes. This book would be most helpful to anyone traveling to Korea and wanting to be sure to behave properly and not be offensive simply by doing whatever is done in the United States.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Callie on April 28, 2011
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Much informations are useful perhaps at the time between the late 80's to the early 00's. Korea have progressed alot from how the book has put it. Yes, some of the information offered are still accurate but much can now be classified as for "history" purposes. If you are looking for a guide in society in present day (2010 onwards), this is not your kind of book. You'll probably be better off by just watching korean dramas at learning how the society works than relying on this book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Blanca on May 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
This books talks a little bit about korean history at the begining, and then it talks about traditions and things to do/not to do in Korea. I really enjoyed reading it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Southern on July 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This little book has helped me prepare to move to Korea. It is pocket-sized and easy to whip out while waiting in the passport line at the post office (haha). The author tried to balance information between the 2 Koreas, and you definitely get the feeling that he knows what he is talking about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Esperanza Reynolds VINE VOICE on February 25, 2010
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We acquired two DVDs and this pocket book in support of a young man deployed and stationed in South Korea.

Upon learning that Michael would be soon leaving us to travel to this beautiful country, we decided to acquire these items to learn where he would be spending the next year of his life.

We are glad to have shared this experience, we learned much about the country, its people, folkloric dance, foods and religion.

If you plan to travel to South Korea and want to arrive with a pocket book in hand that supports your awareness or if you simply want to learn about this country, then this is an excellent choice.

Culture Smart will provide information as to life in South Korea, manners, costumes, religious beliefs, and those little issues that could help you manage your relationships abroad.
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Purchasing this small travel guide prior to my trip to Korea was a good move. Understanding a
culture different from the USA and sometimes very different from other Asian countries is
important. As a guest in their country I wanted to present myself as well as I could.

This book helped me acculturate enough to get by and not insult the Korean populace we met
along the way.

Two big items jumped out at me when reading the book.

One is that Koreans do not use chop sticks to eat rice. It is considered gauche to do so. In any
eating establishment we entered, from roadside diner to elegant eatery we found chopsticks and
a spoon. The spoon is for the rice.

Another is how you exchange money or items with another person. You should use your right
hand to exchange items and not your left. This was a bit difficult as I am left handed. The people
I encountered either personally or at a business were very nice about my faux pas but I felt it
was important to try to respect the culture. After a while it came more naturally.

I found the part about not entering into a domestic dispute good advice. I am not so sure I would
do so even in this country without understanding my options first. To do so in a foreign country
where my language skills are limited, at best, means I would attempt to find other options than
direct intervention. Treading lightly in another culture is good advice, especially from someone
who has spent time in the diplomatic service.

Overall I found the book had a good brief history of the country, its culture and its mores.
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