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The way you handle your, err, hands, coveys a lot of meaning in Korean Culture. The way you place your hands upon giving and receiving things can be viewed as either proper if you know what you’re doing or disrespectful if you don’t. For example, say you’re in a convenience store here in Bucheon; when you give the cashier your money, you need to hold your cash or card one way, while the cashier takes it in another way. Your change is given back in similar fashion, and once the dance is done you can walk away with your purchase knowing that you have been respectful of the customs. As a general rule of thumb, just remember to use both hands. When you give something with one hand, make sure your other hand is touching your elbow, as if the weight of what you are giving is so heavy that you need both hands to support it. Do the same when you are receiving something, or accept it with two hands altogether.

When it comes to waving people and taxis over, a lot of significance is placed in your hand motions as well. Our North American way of doing it is supposedly very rude, because it is the way that Korean people call over their dogs. In North America, we have our palms up, and wave people towards us with a one-hand-clapping gesture. That, supposedly, is how Korean people call their dogs. When they asked me about it, they were surprised that we don’t call our dogs the same way. Martina and I just slap our thighs rapidly and yell “Here Spudgy Pudgy! Come here you fat and smelly dog!” (Now if we called Korean people over THAT way I’m sure it would be extremely rude). Anyhow, if you’re going to call over a taxi or a student in Bucheon, make sure your palm is facing down, not up, and wave them towards you as if you’re swimming with one hand.

If this all sounds confusing, and you’re worried about how to move your hands so that you don’t treat Korean people like dogs, worry no more! We’ve made a Korean Cultural education video just for you!

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  1. Sorry, I have another question what’s the one where you tap the tips of your two index fingers together? Is that to show you’re sheepish about something? (The reason I ask is that the other day I found myself doing that while trying to make a decision about something. I’m sure that’s incorrect, though.)

    • Minki Hwang Lestrangè

      I’m not sure if you’re going to see this reply, but that gesture sounds like one of the sort of “Aegyo” gestures. I guess it is a sort of thinking gesture or when you’re not sure about something?

  2. So if you’re pouring something for one of your parents, are you more or less formal than you would be if you were pouring for someone else?

  3. Does it matter which hand you use to call someone over to you, use as support for the receiving hand ect?

  4. kekeke, first time seeing martina without her blonde and pink hair and with no colourful eyeshadow and not in hd

  5. My Korean employers wanted to get my co-worker to come over to them, and the one lady made the hand gesture shown here for “come here”. My co-worker didn’t know what they meant, but I told her they wanted her to go over to them ^^ :D

  6. Is i also polite to give someone something with two hands o do you just have to support your arm?

  7. Hahaha i have that Phrasebook,i bought i either,but im learning alone so its pretty hard,no body supports me T-T

  8. Anonymous

    its the same as in india but in india we give stuff with two hands and bow our heads when we recieve something be it from a kid or a priest

  9. What if you are left handed and automatically use your left hand to receive something with your right hand touching the left elbow?  Is it still acceptable?

  10. Anonymous

    Hi, I keep seeing one gesture when watching k-pop videos, and I have no idea what that means. They put a fist near their cheek and twist, like when you are brushing your teeth. Sometimes they add their tongue to puff the cheek on the other side. What does it mean? Thanks
    PS: your videos are great :)))

  11. Jihyun Ahn

    simple but good for understanding!! like this video.

  12. Woah! I remember seeing this a long time before I started watching your videos regularly xD Haha, I wonder why it took me so long to find you guys a second time and realize how awesome you are

  13. hey guys i love your videos and specially ur dong spudgy >< his/she super cuteᄋᄉᄋ can you guys make a video for mblaq mona lisa?? i know its there 2011 newest song so i was wondering if u guys could make a video for the mv ᅳ ᄉ ᅳ thx guys btw my real name is kate but my korean name is park nayeon ᄏᄏᄏ바이!!

  14. super.cute33

    martina looks pretty with medium hair =) but she looks prettier with shorter hair xD

  15. o_o do they get really offended when non-koreans forget the hand gestures? since they know we’re not part of their culture? because it seems like such a big bother XD

  16. What happens if you are holding other things and only have one hand available to receive an item? Sorry for being picky<_<

    • It depends on how old you are… I'm still a kid, so even if I'm holding something, if an adult is giving me something, I have to put down whatever I'm holding (on the floor or on any nearby surface) and receive what they give me with two hands. Otherwise yeah, it's really rude and they'll think you're some kind of rude brat … XD

    • ahahaha oh my I was wondering the same thing! I've spent my first few weeks here insulting koreans left right and central oopsie

  17. I love this !!! first time watching your videos! I´m from Mexico and because KPOP (hope one day i could go to Korea)I began to search korean culture. Love ur videos, And also I love Canada (I have family there) :P saludos!

  18. actually another thing when you are drinking with an older person. to be polite you need to turn to the side a bit when you take a drink.

  19. Haha~~

    It was funny and useful information!!

    I got the same situation like that i did the Korean way 'Come Gesture' but my co-worker understood like 'Go Gesture' ;)
    haha

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