Is it Rude to Tip in South Korea?

Tipping culture varies widely from region to region around the world. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to know a bit about the culture before visiting the far-flung corners of the globe.

So, what about tipping in South Korea, is it rude, or welcome? Read on below and learn the truth!

Is it Rude to Tip in South Korea?

Tipping in South Korea is not welcome. In general, tipping in South Korea is seen as rude. 

The fact is, South Korean workers are paid fair wages and don’t need tips to supplement their paychecks as westerners do. 

When you leave a South Korean worker a tip, they are not going to appreciate it – and they won’t likely forget the embarrassment/shame it invoked either.

How Rude Is it?

rudemeter-rating-09

On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, leaving a tip in South Korea rates 9

In South Korea, tipping someone is a quick way to offend them. 

If you don’t want to be seen as a rude westerner, keep your money in your pocket and give a simple verbal compliment to the staff instead of leaving a monetary tip.

There are very few exceptions to this rule, and they mostly always involve a western staff versus a staff made up of South Koreans.

Why is it Rude?

Leaving a tip in South Korea is a direct insult to the staff, the place of business, and the business owner personally. 

Unlike in western countries with a robust tipping culture, eastern countries such as Japan, China, and Korea find it rude and insulting.

More or less, in these countries, with a history of placing the virtue of honor above almost all else, it is an unhonorable action to take someone’s money.

Further, in these countries that find it rude to tip, the staff is often paid much better than in western countries. 

Hence, the tips are looked at as an indicator that you believe the staff needs your money, not as a token of appreciation.

Common Questions

Do people accept tips in Korea?

People may accept tips in Korea, though the tips are far from welcomed let alone appreciated. In Korea, tips are a sign of disrespect. 

In other words, when you leave a tip, you are sending a signal that you feel sorry for the person.

What country is rude to tip in?

The main countries that find it rude to tip in are all located in the eastern hemisphere, such as China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. 

The thing is, in these countries, leaving a tip isn’t welcome by the staff (regardless if it is a tour guide, taxi driver, or waitress). 

Unlike in the west, service workers are paid fair wages, and tips are insults (indicating you feel sorry for them and that they need your money).

Should I leave tips in Korea?

In Korea, you should not leave tips unless you are dealing with a western tourist agency/business. 

The fact is, tipping in Korea is a sign of disrespect, not a sign of appreciation as it is in western culture.